How a young man came into the court of King Arthur, and how Sir Kay called him in scorn La Cote Male Taile.
AT the court of King Arthur there came a young man and bigly made, and he was richly beseen: and he desired to be made knight of the king, but his over-garment sat over-thwartly, howbeit it was rich cloth of gold. What is your name? said King Arthur. Sir, said he, my name is Breunor le Noire, and within short space ye shall know that I am of good kin. It may well be, said Sir Kay, the Seneschal, but in mockage ye shall be called La Cote Male Taile, that is as much to say, the evil-shapen coat It is a great thing that thou askest, said the king; and for what cause wearest thou that rich coat? tell me, for I can well think for some cause it is. Sir, he answered, I had a father, a noble knight, and as he rode a-hunting, upon a day it happed him to lay him down to sleep; and there came a knight that had been long his enemy, and when he saw he was fast asleep he all to-hew him; and this same coat had my father on the same time; and that maketh this coat to sit so evil upon me, for the strokes be on it as I found it, and never shall be amended for me. Thus to have my father’s death in remembrance I wear this coat till I be revenged; and because ye are called the most noblest king of the world I come to you that ye should make me knight. Sir, said Sir Lamorak and Sir Gaheris, it were well done to make him knight; for him beseemeth well of person and of countenance, that he shall prove a good man, and a good knight, and a mighty; for, Sir, an ye be remembered, even such one was Sir Launcelot du Lake when he came first into this court, and full few of us knew from whence he came; and now is he proved the man of most worship in the world; and all your court and all your Round Table is by Sir Launcelot worshipped and amended more than by any knight now living. That is truth, said the king, and to-morrow at your request I shall make him knight.
So on the morrow there was an hart found, and thither rode King Arthur with a company of his knights to slay the hart. And this young man that Sir Kay named La Cote Male Taile was there left behind with Queen Guenever; and by sudden adventure there was an horrible lion kept in a strong tower of stone, and it happened that he at that time brake loose, and came hurling afore the queen and her knights. And when the queen saw the lion she cried and fled, and prayed her knights to rescue her. And there was none of them all but twelve that abode, and all the other fled. Then said La Cote Male Taile: Now I see well that all coward knights be not dead; and therewithal he drew his sword and dressed him afore the lion. And that lion gaped wide and came upon him ramping to have slain him. And he then smote him in the midst of the head such a mighty stroke that it clave his head in sunder, and dashed to the earth. Then was it told the queen how the young man that Sir Kay named by scorn La Cote Male Taile had slain the lion. With that the king came home. And when the queen told him of that adventure, he was well pleased, and said: Upon pain of mine head he shall prove a noble man and a faithful knight, and true of his promise: then the king forthwithal made him knight. Now Sir, said this young knight, I require you and all the knights of your court, that ye call me by none other name but La Cote Male Taile: in so much as Sir Kay hath so named me so will I be called. I assent me well thereto, said the king.
How a damosel came into the court and desired a knight to take on him an enquest, which La Cote Male Taile emprised.
THEN that same day there came a damosel into the court, and she brought with her a great black shield, with a white hand in the midst holding a sword. Other picture was there none in that shield. When King Arthur saw her he asked her from whence she came and what she would. Sir, she said, I have ridden long and many a day with this shield many ways, and for this cause I am come to your court: there was a good knight that ought this shield, and this knight had undertaken a great deed of arms to enchieve it; and so it misfortuned him another strong knight met with him by sudden adventure, and there they fought long, and either wounded other passing sore; and they were so weary that they left that battle even hand. So this knight that ought this shield saw none other way but he must die; and then he commanded me to bear this shield to the court of King Arthur, he requiring and praying some good knight to take this shield, and that he would fulfil the quest that he was in. Now what say ye to this quest? said King Arthur; is there any of you here that will take upon him to wield this shield? Then was there not one that would speak one word. Then Sir Kay took the shield in his hands. Sir knight, said the damosel, what is your name? Wit ye well, said he, my name is Sir Kay, the Seneschal, that wide-where is known. Sir, said that damosel, lay down that shield, for wit ye well it falleth not for you, for he must be a better knight than ye that shall wield this shield. Damosel, said Sir Kay, wit ye well I took this shield in my hands by your leave for to behold it, not to that intent; but go wheresomever thou wilt, for I will not go with you.
Then the damosel stood still a great while and beheld many of those knights. Then spake the knight, La Cote Male Taile: Fair damosel, I will take the shield and that adventure upon me, so I wist I should know whitherward my journey might be; for because I was this day made knight I would take this adventure upon me. What is your name, fair young man? said the damosel. My name is, said he, La Cote Male Taile. Well mayest thou be called so, said the damosel, the knight with the evil-shapen coat; but an thou be so hardy to take upon thee to bear that shield and to follow me, wit thou well thy skin shall be as well hewn as thy coat. As for that, said La Cote Male Taile, when I am so hewn I will ask you no salve to heal me withal. And forthwithal there came into the court two squires and brought him great horses, and his armour, and his spears, and anon he was armed and took his leave. I would not by my will, said the king, that ye took upon you that hard adventure. Sir, said he, this adventure is mine, and the first that ever I took upon me, and that will I follow whatsomever come of me. Then that damosel departed, and La Cote Male Taile fast followed after. And within a while he overtook the damosel, and anon she missaid him in the foulest manner.
How La Cote Male Taile overthrew Sir Dagonet the king’s fool, and of the rebuke that he had of the damosel.
THEN Sir Kay ordained Sir Dagonet, King Arthur’s fool, to follow after La Cote Male Taile; and there Sir Kay ordained that Sir Dagonet was horsed and armed, and bade him follow La Cote Male Taile and proffer him to joust, and so he did; and when he saw La Cote Male Taile, he cried and bade him make him ready to joust. So Sir La Cote Male Taile smote Sir Dagonet over his horse’s croup. Then the damosel mocked La Cote Male Taile, and said: Fie for shame! now art thou shamed in Arthur’s court, when they send a fool to have ado with thee, and specially at thy first jousts; thus she rode long, and chid. And within a while there came Sir Bleoberis, the good knight, and there he jousted with La Cote Male Taile, and there Sir Bleoberis smote him so sore, that horse and all fell to the earth. Then La Cote Male Taile arose up lightly, and dressed his shield, and drew his sword, and would have done battle to the utterance, for he was wood wroth. Not so, said Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, as at this time I will not fight upon foot. Then the damosel Maledisant rebuked him in the foulest manner, and bade him: Turn again, coward. Ah, damosel, he said, I pray you of mercy to missay me no more, my grief is enough though ye give me no more; I call myself never the worse knight when a mare’s son faileth me, and also I count me never the worse knight for a fall of Sir Bleoberis.
So thus he rode with her two days; and by fortune there came Sir Palomides and encountered with him, and he in the same wise served him as did Bleoberis toforehand. What dost thou here in my fellowship? said the damosel Maledisant, thou canst not sit no knight, nor withstand him one buffet, but if it were Sir Dagonet. Ah, fair damosel, I am not the worse to take a fall of Sir Palomides, and yet great disworship have I none, for neither Bleoberis nor yet Palomides would not fight with me on foot. As for that, said the damosel, wit thou well they have disdain and scorn to light off their horses to fight with such a lewd knight as thou art. So in the meanwhile there came Sir Mordred, Sir Gawaine’s brother, and so he fell in the fellowship with the damosel Maledisant. And then they came afore the Castle Orgulous, and there was such a custom that there might no knight come by that castle but either he must joust or be prisoner, or at the least to lose his horse and his harness. And there came out two knights against them, and Sir Mordred jousted with the foremost, and that knight of the castle smote Sir Mordred down off his horse. And then La Cote Male Taile jousted with that other, and either of them smote other down, horse and all, to the earth. And when they avoided their horses, then either of them took other’s horses. And then La Cote Male Taile rode unto that knight that smote down Sir Mordred, and jousted with him. And there Sir La Cote Male Taile hurt and wounded him passing sore, and put him from his horse as he had been dead. So he turned unto him that met him afore, and he took the flight towards the castle, and Sir La Cote Male Taile rode after him into the Castle Orgulous, and there La Cote Male Taile slew him.
How La Cote Male Taile fought against an hundred knights, and how he escaped by the mean of a lady.
AND anon there came an hundred knights about him and assailed him; and when he saw his horse should be slain he alighted and voided his horse, and put the bridle under his feet, and so put him out of the gate. And when he had so done he hurled in among them, and dressed his back unto a lady’s chamber-wall, thinking himself that he had liefer die there with worship than to abide the rebukes of the damosel Maledisant. And in the meantime as he stood and fought, that lady whose was the chamber went out slily at her postern, and without the gates she found La Cote Male Taile’s horse, and lightly she gat him by the bridle, and tied him to the postern. And then she went unto her chamber slily again for to behold how that one knight fought against an hundred knights. And when she had beheld him long she went to a window behind his back, and said: Thou knight, thou fightest wonderly well, but for all that at the last thou must needs die, but, an thou canst through thy mighty prowess, win unto yonder postern, for there have I fastened thy horse to abide thee: but wit thou well thou must think on thy worship, and think not to die, for thou mayst not win unto that postern without thou do nobly and mightily. When La Cote Male Taile heard her say so he gripped his sword in his hands, and put his shield fair afore him, and through the thickest press he thrulled through them. And when he came to the postern he found there ready four knights, and at two the first strokes he slew two of the knights, and the other fled; and so he won his horse and rode from them. And all as it was it was rehearsed in King Arthur’s court, how he slew twelve knights within the Castle Orgulous; and so he rode on his way.
And in the meanwhile the damosel said to Sir Mordred: I ween my foolish knight be either slain or taken prisoner: then were they ware where he came riding. And when he was come unto them he told all how he had sped and escaped in despite of them all: And some of the best of them will tell no tales. Thou liest falsely, said the damosel, that dare I make good, but as a fool and a dastard to all knighthood they have let thee pass. That may ye prove, said La Cote Male Taile. With that she sent a courier of hers, that rode alway with her, for to know the truth of this deed; and so he rode thither lightly, and asked how and in what manner that La Cote Male Taile was escaped out of the castle. Then all the knights cursed him, and said that he was a fiend and no man: For he hath slain here twelve of our best knights, and we weened unto this day that it had been too much for Sir Launcelot du Lake or for Sir Tristram de Liones. And in despite of us all he is departed from us and maugre our heads.
With this answer the courier departed and came to Maledisant his lady, and told her all how Sir La Cote Male Taile had sped at the Castle Orgulous. Then she smote down her head, and said little. By my head, said Sir Mordred to the damosel, ye are greatly to blame so to rebuke him, for I warn you plainly he is a good knight, and I doubt not but he shall prove a noble knight; but as yet he may not yet sit sure on horseback, for he that shall be a good horseman it must come of usage and exercise. But when he cometh to the strokes of his sword he is then noble and mighty, and that saw Sir Bleoberis and Sir Palomides, for wit ye well they are wily men of arms, and anon they know when they see a young knight by his riding, how they are sure to give him a fall from his horse or a great buffet. But for the most part they will not light on foot with young knights, for they are wight and strongly armed. For in likewise Sir Launcelot du Lake, when he was first made knight, he was often put to the worse upon horseback, but ever upon foot he recovered his renown, and slew and defoiled many knights of the Round Table. And therefore the rebukes that Sir Launcelot did unto many knights causeth them that be men of prowess to beware; for often I have seen the old proved knights rebuked and slain by them that were but young beginners. Thus they rode sure talking by the way together.
How Sir Launcelot came to the court and heard of La Cote Male Taile, and how he followed after him, and how La Cote Male Taile was prisoner.
HERE leave we off a while of this tale, and speak we of Sir Launcelot du Lake,9 that when he was come to the court of King Arthur, then heard he tell of the young knight La Cote Male Taile, how he slew the lion, and how he took upon him the adventure of the black shield, the which was named at that time the hardiest adventure of the world. So God me save, said Sir Launcelot unto many of his fellows, it was shame to all the noble knights to suffer such a young knight to take such adventure upon him for his destruction; for I will that ye wit, said Sir Launcelot, that that damosel Maledisant hath borne that shield many a day for to seek the most proved knights, and that was she that Breuse Saunce Pite took that shield from her, and after Tristram de Liones rescued that shield from him and gave it to the damosel again, a little afore that time that Sir Tristram fought with my nephew Sir Blamore de Ganis, for a quarrel that was betwixt the King of Ireland and him. Then many knights were sorry that Sir La Cote Male Taile was gone forth to that adventure. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, I cast me to ride after him. And within seven days Sir Launcelot overtook La Cote Male Taile, and then he saluted him and the damosel Maledisant. And when Sir Mordred saw Sir Launcelot, then he left their fellowship; and so Sir Launcelot rode with them all a day, and ever that damosel rebuked La Cote Male Taile; and then Sir Launcelot answered for him, then she left off, and rebuked Sir Launcelot.
9 Printed by Caxton as part of chap. iv.
So this meantime Sir Tristram sent by a damosel a letter unto Sir Launcelot, excusing him of the wedding of Isoud la Blanche Mains; and said in the letter, as he was a true knight he had never ado fleshly with Isoud la Blanche Mains; and passing courteously and gentily Sir Tristram wrote unto Sir Launcelot, ever beseeching him to be his good friend and unto La Beale Isoud of Cornwall, and that Sir Launcelot would excuse him if that ever he saw her. And within short time by the grace of God, said Sir Tristram, that he would speak with La Beale Isoud, and with him right hastily. Then Sir Launcelot departed from the damosel and from Sir La Cote Male Taile, for to oversee that letter, and to write another letter unto Sir Tristram de Liones.
And in the meanwhile La Cote Male Taile rode with the damosel until they came to a castle that hight Pendragon; and there were six knights stood afore him, and one of them proffered to joust with La Cote Male Taile. And there La Cote Male Taile smote him over his horse’s croup. And then the five knights set upon him all at once with their spears, and there they smote La Cote Male Taile down, horse and man. And then they alighted suddenly, and set their hands upon him all at once, and took him prisoner, and so led him unto the castle and kept him as prisoner.
And on the morn Sir Launcelot arose, and delivered the damosel with letters unto Sir Tristram, and then he took his way after La Cote Male Taile; and by the way upon a bridge there was a knight proffered Sir Launcelot to joust, and Sir Launcelot smote him down, and then they fought upon foot a noble battle together, and a mighty; and at the last Sir Launcelot smote him down grovelling upon his hands and his knees. And then that knight yielded him, and Sir Launcelot received him fair. Sir, said the knight, I require thee tell me your name, for much my heart giveth unto you. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, as at this time I will not tell you my name, unless then that ye tell me your name. Certainly, said the knight, my name is Sir Nerovens, that was made knight of my lord Sir Launcelot du Lake. Ah, Nerovens de Lile, said Sir Launcelot, I am right glad that ye are proved a good knight, for now wit ye well my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Alas, said Sir Nerovens de Lile, what have I done! And therewithal flatling he fell to his feet, and would have kissed them, but Sir Launcelot would not let him; and then either made great joy of other. And then Sir Nerovens told Sir Launcelot that he should not go by the Castle of Pendragon: For there is a lord, a mighty knight, and many knights with him, and this night I heard say that they took a knight prisoner yesterday that rode with a damosel, and they say he is a Knight of the Round Table.
How Sir Launcelot fought with six knights, and after with Sir Brian, and how he delivered the prisoners.
AH, said Sir Launcelot, that knight is my fellow, and him shall I rescue or else I shall lose my life therefore. And therewithal he rode fast till he came before the Castle of Pendragon; and anon therewithal there came six knights, and all made them ready to set upon Sir Launcelot at once; then Sir Launcelot feutred his spear, and smote the foremost that he brake his back in-sunder, and three of them hit and three failed. And then Sir Launcelot passed through them, and lightly he turned in again, and smote another knight through the breast and throughout the back more than an ell, and therewithal his spear brake. So then all the remnant of the four knights drew their swords and lashed at Sir Launcelot. And at every stroke Sir Launcelot bestowed so his strokes that at four strokes sundry they avoided their saddles, passing sore wounded; and forthwithal he rode hurling into that castle.
And anon the lord of the castle, that was that time cleped Sir Brian de les Isles, the which was a noble man and a great enemy unto King Arthur, within a while he was armed and upon horseback. And then they feutred their spears and hurled together so strongly that both their horses rashed to the earth. And then they avoided their saddles, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and flang together as wood men, and there were many strokes given in a while. At the last Sir Launcelot gave to Sir Brian such a buffet that he kneeled upon his knees, and then Sir Launcelot rashed upon him, and with great force he pulled off his helm; and when Sir Brian saw that he should be slain he yielded him, and put him in his mercy and in his grace. Then Sir Launcelot made him to deliver all his prisoners that he had within his castle, and therein Sir Launcelot found of Arthur’s knights thirty, and forty ladies, and so he delivered them; and then he rode his way. And anon as La Cote Male Taile was delivered he gat his horse, and his harness, and his damosel Maledisant.
The meanwhile Sir Nerovens, that Sir Launcelot had foughten withal afore at the bridge, he sent a damosel after Sir Launcelot to wit how he sped at the Castle of Pendragon. And then they within the castle marvelled what knight he was, when Sir Brian and his knights delivered all those prisoners. Have ye no marvel, said the damosel, for the best knight in this world was here, and did this journey, and wit ye well, she said, it was Sir Launcelot. Then was Sir Brian full glad, and so was his lady, and all his knights, that such a man should win them. And when the damosel and La Cote Male Taile understood that it was Sir Launcelot du Lake that had ridden with them in fellowship, and that she remembered her how she had rebuked him and called him coward, then was she passing heavy.
How Sir Launcelot met with the damosel named Male disant, and named her the Damosel Bienpensant.
SO then they took their horses and rode forth a pace after Sir Launcelot. And within two mile they overtook him, and saluted him, and thanked him, and the damosel cried Sir Launcelot mercy of her evil deed and saying: For now I know the flower of all knighthood is departed even between Sir Tristram and you. For God knoweth, said the damosel, that I have sought you my lord, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Tristram long, and now I thank God I have met with you; and once at Camelot I met with Sir Tristram, and there he rescued this black shield with the white hand holding a naked sword that Sir Breuse Saunce Pite had taken from me. Now, fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, who told you my name? Sir, said she, there came a damosel from a knight that ye fought withal at the bridge, and she told me your name was Sir Launcelot du Lake. Blame have she then, said Sir Launcelot, but her lord, Sir Nerovens, hath told her. But, damosel, said Sir Launcelot, upon this covenant I will ride with you, so that ye will not rebuke this knight Sir La Cote Male Taile no more; for he is a good knight, and I doubt not he shall prove a noble knight, and for his sake and pity that he should not be destroyed I followed him to succour him in this great need. Ah, Jesu thank you, said the damosel, for now I will say unto you and to him both, I rebuked him never for no hate that I hated him, but for great love that I had to him. For ever I supposed that he had been too young and too tender to take upon him these adventures. And therefore by my will I would have driven him away for jealousy that I had of his life, for it may be no young knight’s deed that shall enchieve this adventure to the end. Pardieu, said Sir Launcelot, it is well said, and where ye are called the Damosel Maledisant I will call you the Damosel Bienpensant.
And so they rode forth a great while unto they came to the border of the country of Surluse, and there they found a fair village with a strong bridge like a fortress. And when Sir Launcelot and they were at the bridge there stert forth afore them of gentlemen and yeomen many, that said: Fair lords, ye may not pass this bridge and this fortress because of that black shield that I see one of you bear, and therefore there shall not pass but one of you at once; therefore choose you which of you shall enter within this bridge first. Then Sir Launcelot proffered himself first to enter within this bridge. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I beseech you let me enter within this fortress, and if I may speed well I will send for you, and if it happened that I be slain, there it goeth. And if so be that I am a prisoner taken, then may ye rescue me. I am loath, said Sir Launcelot, to let you pass this passage. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I pray you let me put my body in this adventure. Now go your way, said Sir Launcelot, and Jesu be your speed.
So he entered, and anon there met with him two brethren, the one hight Sir Plaine de Force, and the other hight Sir Plaine de Amours. And anon they met with Sir La Cote Male Taile; and first La Cote Male Taile smote down Plaine de Force, and after he smote down Plaine de Amours; and then they dressed them to their shields and swords, and bade La Cote Male Taile alight, and so he did; and there was dashing and foining with swords, and so they began to assail full hard La Cote Male Taile, and many great wounds they gave him upon his head, and upon his breast, and upon his shoulders. And as he might ever among he gave sad strokes again. And then the two brethren traced and traversed for to be of both hands of Sir La Cote Male Taile, but he by fine force and knightly prowess gat them afore him. And then when he felt himself so wounded, then he doubled his strokes, and gave them so many wounds that he felled them to the earth, and would have slain them had they not yielded them. And right so Sir La Cote Male Taile took the best horse that there was of them three, and so rode forth his way to the other fortress and bridge; and there he met with the third brother whose name was Sir Plenorius, a full noble knight, and there they jousted together, and either smote other down, horse and man, to the earth. And then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and gave many sad strokes, and one while the one knight was afore on the bridge, and another while the other. And thus they fought two hours and more, and never rested. And ever Sir Launcelot and the damosel beheld them. Alas, said the damosel, my knight fighteth passing sore and over long. Now may ye see, said Sir Launcelot, that he is a noble knight, for to consider his first battle, and his grievous wounds; and even forthwithal so wounded as he is, it is marvel that he may endure this long battle with that good knight.
How La Cote Male Taile was taken prisoner, and after rescued by Sir Launcelot, and how Sir Launcelot overcame four brethren.
THIS meanwhile Sir La Cote Male Taile sank right down upon the earth, what for-wounded and what for-bled he might not stand. Then the other knight had pity of him, and said: Fair young knight, dismay you not, for had ye been fresh when ye met with me, as I was, I wot well that I should not have endured so long as ye have done; and therefore for your noble deeds of arms I shall show to you kindness and gentleness in all that I may. And forthwithal this noble knight, Sir Plenorius, took him up in his arms, and led him into his tower. And then he commanded him the wine, and made to search him and to stop his bleeding wounds. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, withdraw you from me, and hie you to yonder bridge again, for there will meet with you another manner knight than ever was I. Why, said Plenorius, is there another manner knight behind of your fellowship? Yea, said La Cote Male Taile, there is a much better knight than I am. What is his name? said Plenorius. Ye shall not know for me, said La Cote Male Taile. Well, said the knight, he shall be encountered withal whatsomever he be.
Then Sir Plenorius heard a knight call that said: Sir Plenorius, where art thou? either thou must deliver me the prisoner that thou hast led unto thy tower, or else come and do battle with me. Then Plenorius gat his horse, and came with a spear in his hand walloping toward Sir Launcelot; and then they began to feutre their spears, and came together as thunder, and smote either other so mightily that their horses fell down under them. And then they avoided their horses, and pulled out their swords, and like two bulls they lashed together with great strokes and foins; but ever Sir Launcelot recovered ground upon him, and Sir Plenorius traced to have gone about him. But Sir Launcelot would not suffer that, but bare him backer and backer, till he came nigh his tower gate. And then said Sir Launcelot: I know thee well for a good knight, but wit thou well thy life and death is in my hand, and therefore yield thee to me, and thy prisoner. The other answered no word, but struck mightily upon Sir Launcelot’s helm, that the fire sprang out of his eyes. Then Sir Launcelot doubled his strokes so thick, and smote at him so mightily, that he made him kneel upon his knees. And therewith Sir Launcelot leapt upon him, and pulled him grovelling down. Then Sir Plenorius yielded him, and his tower, and all his prisoners at his will.
Then Sir Launcelot received him and took his troth; and then he rode to the other bridge, and there Sir Launcelot jousted with other three of his brethren, the one hight Pillounes, and the other hight Pellogris, and the third Sir Pellandris. And first upon horseback Sir Launcelot smote them down, and afterward he beat them on foot, and made them to yield them unto him; and then he returned unto Sir Plenorius, and there he found in his prison King Carados of Scotland, and many other knights, and all they were delivered. And then Sir La Cote Male Taile came to Sir Launcelot, and then Sir Launcelot would have given him all these fortresses and these bridges. Nay, said La Cote Male Taile, I will not have Sir Plenorius’ livelihood; with that he will grant you, my lord Sir Launcelot, to come unto King Arthur’s court, and to be his knight, and all his brethren, I will pray you, my lord, to let him have his livelihood. I will well, said Sir Launcelot, with this that he will come to the court of King Arthur and become his man, and his brethren five. And as for you, Sir Plenorius, I will undertake, said Sir Launcelot, at the next feast, so there be a place voided, that ye shall be Knight of the Round Table. Sir, said Plenorius, at the next feast of Pentecost I will be at Arthur’s court, and at that time I will be guided and ruled as King Arthur and ye will have me. Then Sir Launcelot and Sir La Cote Male Taile reposed them there, unto the time that Sir La Cote Male Taile was whole of his wounds, and there they had merry cheer, and good rest, and many good games, and there were many fair ladies.
How Sir Launcelot made La Cote Male Taile lord of the Castle of Pendragon, and after was made knight of the Round Table.
AND in the meanwhile came Sir Kay, the Seneschal, and Sir Brandiles, and anon they fellowshipped with them. And then within ten days, then departed those knights of Arthur’s court from these fortresses. And as Sir Launcelot came by the Castle of Pendragon there he put Sir Brian de les Isles from his lands, for cause he would never be withhold with King Arthur; and all that Castle of Pendragon and all the lands thereof he gave to Sir La Cote Male Taile. And then Sir Launcelot sent for Nerovens that he made once knight, and he made him to have all the rule of that castle and of that country, under La Cote Male Taile; and so they rode to Arthur’s court all wholly together. And at Pentecost next following there was Sir Plenorius and Sir La Cote Male Taile, called otherwise by right Sir Breunor le Noire, both made Knights of the Table Round; and great lands King Arthur gave them, and there Breunor le Noire wedded that damosel Maledisant. And after she was called Beauvivante, but ever after for the more part he was called La Cote Male Taile; and he proved a passing noble knight, and mighty; and many worshipful deeds he did after in his life; and Sir Plenorius proved a noble knight and full of prowess, and all the days of their life for the most part they awaited upon Sir Launcelot; and Sir Plenorius’ brethren were ever knights of King Arthur. And also, as the French book maketh mention, Sir La Cote Male Taile avenged his father’s death.
How La Beale Isoud sent letters to Sir Tristram by her maid Bragwaine, and of divers adventures of Sir Tristram.
NOW leave we here Sir La Cote Male Taile, and turn we unto Sir Tristram de Liones that was in Brittany. When La Beale Isoud understood that he was wedded she sent to him by her maiden Bragwaine as piteous letters as could be thought and made, and her conclusion was that, an it pleased Sir Tristram, that he would come to her court, and bring with him Isoud la Blanche Mains, and they should be kept as well as she herself. Then Sir Tristram called unto him Sir Kehydius, and asked him whether he would go with him into Cornwall secretly. He answered him that he was ready at all times. And then he let ordain privily a little vessel, and therein they went, Sir Tristram, Kehydius, Dame Bragwaine, and Gouvernail, Sir Tristram’s squire. So when they were in the sea a contrarious wind blew them on the coasts of North Wales, nigh the Castle Perilous. Then said Sir Tristram: Here shall ye abide me these ten days, and Gouvernail, my squire, with you. And if so be I come not again by that day take the next way into Cornwall; for in this forest are many strange adventures, as I have heard say, and some of them I cast me to prove or I depart. And when I may I shall hie me after you.
Then Sir Tristram and Kehydius took their horses and departed from their fellowship. And so they rode within that forest a mile and more; and at the last Sir Tristram saw afore him a likely knight, armed, sitting by a well, and a strong mighty horse passing nigh him tied to an oak, and a man hoving and riding by him leading an horse laden with spears. And this knight that sat at the well seemed by his countenance to be passing heavy. Then Sir Tristram rode near him and said: Fair knight, why sit ye so drooping? ye seem to be a knight-errant by your arms and harness, and therefore dress you to joust with one of us, or with both. Therewithal that knight made no words, but took his shield and buckled it about his neck, and lightly he took his horse and leapt upon him. And then he took a great spear of his squire, and departed his way a furlong. Sir Kehydius asked leave of Sir Tristram to joust first. Do your best, said Sir Tristram. So they met together, and there Sir Kehydius had a fall, and was sore wounded on high above the paps. Then Sir Tristram said: Knight, that is well jousted, now make you ready unto me. I am ready, said the knight. And then that knight took a greater spear in his hand, and encountered with Sir Tristram, and there by great force that knight smote down Sir Tristram from his horse and had a great fall. Then Sir Tristram was sore ashamed, and lightly he avoided his horse, and put his shield afore his shoulder, and drew his sword. And then Sir Tristram required that knight of his knighthood to alight upon foot and fight with him. I will well, said the knight; and so he alighted upon foot, and avoided his horse, and cast his shield upon his shoulder, and drew his sword, and there they fought a long battle together full nigh two hours. Then Sir Tristram said: Fair knight, hold thine hand, and tell me of whence thou art, and what is thy name. As for that, said the knight, I will be avised; but an thou wilt tell me thy name peradventure I will tell thee mine.
How Sir Tristram met with Sir Lamorak de Galis, and how they fought, and after accorded never to fight together.
NOW fair knight, he said, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Sir, said the other knight, and my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. Ah, Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, well be we met, and bethink thee now of the despite thou didst me of the sending of the horn unto King Mark’s court, to the intent to have slain or dishonoured my lady the queen, La Beale Isoud; and therefore wit thou well, said Sir Tristram, the one of us shall die or we depart. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, remember that we were together in the Isle of Servage, and at that time ye promised me great friendship. Then Sir Tristram would make no longer delays, but lashed at Sir Lamorak; and thus they fought long till either were weary of other. Then Sir Tristram said to Sir Lamorak: In all my life met I never with such a knight that was so big and well breathed as ye be, therefore, said Sir Tristram, it were pity that any of us both should here be mischieved. Sir said Sir Lamorak, for your renown and name I will that ye have the worship of this battle, and therefore I will yield me unto you. And therewith he took the point of his sword to yield him. Nay, said Sir Tristram, ye shall not do so, for well I know your proffers, and more of your gentleness than for any fear or dread ye have of me. And therewithal Sir Tristram proffered him his sword and said: Sir Lamorak, as an overcome knight I yield me unto you as to a man of the most noble prowess that ever I met withal. Nay, said Sir Lamorak, I will do you gentleness; I require you let us be sworn together that never none of us shall after this day have ado with other. And therewithal Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak sware that never none of them should fight against other, nor for weal nor for woe.
How Sir Palomides followed the Questing Beast, and smote down Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak with one spear.
AND this meanwhile there came Sir Palomides, the good knight, following the Questing Beast that had in shape a head like a serpent’s head, and a body like a leopard, buttocks like a lion, and footed like an hart; and in his body there was such a noise as it had been the noise of thirty couple of hounds questing, and such a noise that beast made wheresomever he went; and this beast ever more Sir Palomides followed, for it was called his quest. And right so as he followed this beast it came by Sir Tristram, and soon after came Palomides. And to brief this matter he smote down Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak both with one spear; and so he departed after the beast Galtisant, that was called the Questing Beast; wherefore these two knights were passing wroth that Sir Palomides would not fight on foot with them. Here men may understand that be of worship, that he was never formed that all times might stand, but sometime he was put to the worse by mal-fortune; and at sometime the worse knight put the better knight to a rebuke.
Then Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak gat Sir Kehydius upon a shield betwixt them both, and led him to a forester’s lodge, and there they gave him in charge to keep him well, and with him they abode three days. Then the two knights took their horses and at the cross they departed. And then said Sir Tristram to Sir Lamorak: I require you if ye hap to meet with Sir Palomides, say him that he shall find me at the same well where I met him, and there I, Sir Tristram, shall prove whether he be better knight than I. And so either departed from other a sundry way, and Sir Tristram rode nigh thereas was Sir Kehydius; and Sir Lamorak rode until he came to a chapel, and there he put his horse unto pasture. And anon there came Sir Meliagaunce, that was King Bagdemagus’ son, and he there put his horse to pasture, and was not ware of Sir Lamorak; and then this knight Sir Meliagaunce made his moan of the love that he had to Queen Guenever, and there he made a woful complaint. All this heard Sir Lamorak, and on the morn Sir Lamorak took his horse and rode unto the forest, and there he met with two knights hoving under the wood-shaw. Fair knights, said Sir Lamorak, what do ye hoving here and watching? and if ye be knights-errant that will joust, lo I am ready. Nay, sir knight, they said, not so, we abide not here to joust with you, but we lie here in await of a knight that slew our brother. What knight was that, said Sir Lamorak, that you would fain meet withal? Sir, they said, it is Sir Launcelot that slew our brother, and if ever we may meet with him he shall not escape, but we shall slay him. Ye take upon you a great charge, said Sir Lamorak, for Sir Launcelot is a noble proved knight. As for that we doubt not, for there nis none of us but we are good enough for him. I will not believe that, said Sir Lamorak, for I heard never yet of no knight the days of my life but Sir Launcelot was too big for him.
How Sir Lamorak met with Sir Meliagaunce, and fought together for the beauty of Dame Guenever.
RIGHT so as they stood talking thus Sir Lamorak was ware how Sir Launcelot came riding straight toward them; then Sir Lamorak saluted him, and he him again. And then Sir Lamorak asked Sir Launcelot if there were anything that he might do for him in these marches. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, not at this time I thank you. Then either departed from other, and Sir Lamorak rode again thereas he left the two knights, and then he found them hid in the leaved wood. Fie on you, said Sir Lamorak, false cowards, pity and shame it is that any of you should take the high order of knighthood. So Sir Lamorak departed from them, and within a while he met with Sir Meliagaunce. And then Sir Lamorak asked him why he loved Queen Guenever as he did: For I was not far from you when ye made your complaint by the chapel. Did ye so? said Sir Meliagaunce, then will I abide by it: I love Queen Guenever, what will ye with it? I will prove and make good that she is the fairest lady and most of beauty in the world. As to that, said Sir Lamorak, I say nay thereto, for Queen Morgawse of Orkney, mother to Sir Gawaine, and his mother is the fairest queen and lady that beareth the life. That is not so, said Sir Meliagaunce, and that will I prove with my hands upon thy body. Will ye so? said Sir Lamorak, and in a better quarrel keep I not to fight. Then they departed either from other in great wrath. And then they came riding together as it had been thunder, and either smote other so sore that their horses fell backward to the earth. And then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords. And then they hurtled together as wild boars, and thus they fought a great while. For Meliagaunce was a good man and of great might, but Sir Lamorak was hard big for him, and put him always aback, but either had wounded other sore.
And as they stood thus fighting, by fortune came Sir Launcelot and Sir Bleoberis riding. And then Sir Launcelot rode betwixt them, and asked them for what cause they fought so together: And ye are both knights of King Arthur!
How Sir Meliagaunce told for what cause they fought, and how Sir Lamorak jousted with King Arthur.
SIR, said Meliagaunce, I shall tell you for what cause we do this battle. I praised my lady, Queen Guenever, and said she was the fairest lady of the world, and Sir Lamorak said nay thereto, for he said Queen Morgawse of Orkney was fairer than she and more of beauty. Ah, Sir Lamorak, why sayest thou so? it is not thy part to dispraise thy princess that thou art under her obeissance, and we all. And therewith he alighted on foot, and said: For this quarrel, make thee ready, for I will prove upon thee that Queen Guenever is the fairest lady and most of bounty in the world. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, I am loath to have ado with you in this quarrel, for every man thinketh his own lady fairest; and though I praise the lady that I love most ye should not be wroth; for though my lady Queen Guenever, be fairest in your eye, wit ye well Queen Morgawse of Orkney is fairest in mine eye, and so every knight thinketh his own lady fairest; and wit ye well, sir, ye are the man in the world except Sir Tristram that I am most loathest to have ado withal, but, an ye will needs fight with me I shall endure you as long as I may. Then spake Sir Bleoberis and said: My lord Sir Launcelot, I wist you never so misadvised as ye are now, for Sir Lamorak sayeth you but reason and knightly; for I warn you I have a lady, and methinketh that she is the fairest lady of the world. Were this a great reason that ye should be wroth with me for such language? And well ye wot, that Sir Lamorak is as noble a knight as I know, and he hath ought you and us ever good will, and therefore I pray you be good friends. Then Sir Launcelot said unto Sir Lamorak. I pray you forgive me mine evil will, and if I was misadvised I will amend it. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, the amends is soon made betwixt you and me. And so Sir Launcelot and Sir Bleoberis departed, and Sir Meliagaunce and Sir Lamorak took their horses, and either departed from other.
And within a while came King Arthur, and met with Sir Lamorak, and jousted with him; and there he smote down Sir Lamorak, and wounded him sore with a spear, and so he rode from him; wherefore Sir Lamorak was wroth that he would not fight with him on foot, howbeit that Sir Lamorak knew not King Arthur.
How Sir Kay met with Sir Tristram, and after of the shame spoken of the knights of Cornwall, and how they jousted.
NOW leave we of this tale, and speak we of Sir Tristram, that as he rode he met with Sir Kay, the Seneschal; and there Sir Kay asked Sir Tristram of what country he was. He answered that he was of the country of Cornwall. It may well be, said Sir Kay, for yet heard I never that ever good knight came out of Cornwall. That is evil spoken, said Sir Tristram, but an it please you to tell me your name I require you. Sir, wit ye well, said Sir Kay, that my name is Sir Kay, the Seneschal. Is that your name? said Sir Tristram, now wit ye well that ye are named the shamefullest knight of your tongue that now is living; howbeit ye are called a good knight, but ye are called unfortunate, and passing overthwart of your tongue. And thus they rode together till they came to a bridge. And there was a knight would not let them pass till one of them jousted with him; and so that knight jousted with Sir Kay, and there that knight gave Sir Kay a fall: his name was Sir Tor, Sir Lamorak’s half-brother. And then they two rode to their lodging, and there they found Sir Brandiles, and Sir Tor came thither anon after. And as they sat at supper these four knights, three of them spake all shame by Cornish knights. Sir Tristram heard all that they said and he said but little, but he thought the more, but at that time he discovered not his name.
Upon the morn Sir Tristram took his horse and abode them upon their way. And there Sir Brandiles proffered to joust with Sir Tristram, and Sir Tristram smote him down, horse and all, to the earth. Then Sir Tor le Fise de Vayshoure encountered with Sir Tristram and there Sir Tristram smote him down, and then he rode his way, and Sir Kay followed him, but he would not of his fellowship. Then Sir Brandiles came to Sir Kay and said: I would wit fain what is that knight’s name. Come on with me, said Sir Kay, and we shall pray him to tell us his name. So they rode together till they came nigh him, and then they were ware where he sat by a well, and had put off his helm to drink at the well. And when he saw them come he laced on his helm lightly, and took his horse, and proffered them to joust. Nay, said Sir Brandiles, we jousted late enough with you, we come not in that intent. But for this we come to require you of knighthood to tell us your name. My fair knights, sithen that is your desire, and to please you, ye shall wit that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, nephew unto King Mark of Cornwall. In good time, said Sir Brandiles, and well be ye found, and wit ye well that we be right glad that we have found you, and we be of a fellowship that would be right glad of your company. For ye are the knight in the world that the noble fellowship of the Round Table most desireth to have the company of. God thank them said Sir Tristram, of their great goodness, but as yet I feel well that I am unable to be of their fellowship, for I was never yet of such deeds of worthiness to be in the company of such a fellowship. Ah, said Sir Kay, an ye be Sir Tristram de Liones, ye are the man called now most of prowess except Sir Launcelot du Lake; for he beareth not the life, Christian nor heathen, that can find such another knight, to speak of his prowess, and of his hands, and his truth withal. For yet could there never creature say of him dishonour and make it good. Thus they talked a great while, and then they departed either from other such ways as them seemed best.
How King Arthur was brought into the Forest Perilous, and how Sir Tristram saved his life.
NOW shall ye hear what was the cause that King Arthur came into the Forest Perilous, that was in North Wales, by the means of a lady. Her name was Annowre, and this lady came to King Arthur at Cardiff; and she by fair promise and fair behests made King Arthur to ride with her into that Forest Perilous; and she was a great sorceress; and many days she had loved King Arthur, and because she would have him to lie by her she came into that country. So when the king was gone with her many of his knights followed after King Arthur when they missed him, as Sir Launcelot, Brandiles, and many other; and when she had brought him to her tower she desired him to lie by her; and then the king remembered him of his lady, and would not lie by her for no craft that she could do. Then every day she would make him ride into that forest with his own knights, to the intent to have had King Arthur slain. For when this Lady Annowre saw that she might not have him at her will, then she laboured by false means to have destroyed King Arthur, and slain.
Then the Lady of the Lake that was alway friendly to King Arthur, she understood by her subtle crafts that King Arthur was like to be destroyed. And therefore this Lady of the Lake, that hight Nimue, came into that forest to seek after Sir Launcelot du Lake or Sir Tristram for to help King Arthur; foras that same day this Lady of the Lake knew well that King Arthur should be slain, unless that he had help of one of these two knights. And thus she rode up and down till she met with Sir Tristram, and anon as she saw him she knew him. O my lord Sir Tristram, she said, well be ye met, and blessed be the time that I have met with you; for this same day, and within these two hours, shall be done the foulest deed that ever was done in this land. O fair damosel, said Sir Tristram, may I amend it. Come on with me, she said, and that in all the haste ye may, for ye shall see the most worshipfullest knight of the world hard bestead. Then said Sir Tristram: I am ready to help such a noble man. He is neither better nor worse, said the Lady of the Lake, but the noble King Arthur himself. God defend, said Sir Tristram, that ever he should be in such distress. Then they rode together a great pace, until they came to a little turret or castle; and underneath that castle they saw a knight standing upon foot fighting with two knights; and so Sir Tristram beheld them, and at the last the two knights smote down the one knight, and that one of them unlaced his helm to have slain him. And the Lady Annowre gat King Arthur’s sword in her hand to have stricken off his head. And therewithal came Sir Tristram with all his might, crying: Traitress, traitress, leave that. And anon there Sir Tristram smote the one of the knights through the body that he fell dead; and then he rashed to the other and smote his back asunder; and in the meanwhile the Lady of the Lake cried to King Arthur: Let not that false lady escape. Then King Arthur overtook her, and with the same sword he smote off her head, and the Lady of the Lake took up her head and hung it up by the hair of her saddle-bow. And then Sir Tristram horsed King Arthur and rode forth with him, but he charged the Lady of the Lake not to discover his name as at that time.
When the king was horsed he thanked heartily Sir Tristram, and desired to wit his name; but he would not tell him, but that he was a poor knight adventurous; and so he bare King Arthur fellowship till he met with some of his knights. And within a while he met with Sir Ector de Maris, and he knew not King Arthur nor Sir Tristram, and he desired to joust with one of them. Then Sir Tristram rode unto Sir Ector, and smote him from his horse. And when he had done so he came again to the king and said: My lord, yonder is one of your knights, he may bare you fellowship, and another day that deed that I have done for you I trust to God ye shall understand that I would do you service. Alas, said King Arthur, let me wit what ye are? Not at this time, said Sir Tristram. So he departed and left King Arthur and Sir Ector together.
How Sir Tristram came to La Beale Isoud, and how Kehydius began to love Beale Isoud, and of a letter that Tristram found.
AND then at a day set Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak met at the well; and then they took Kehydius at the forester’s house, and so they rode with him to the ship where they left Dame Bragwaine and Gouvernail, and so they sailed into Cornwall all wholly together. And by assent and information of Dame Bragwaine when they were landed they rode unto Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, a trusty friend of Sir Tristram’s. And so Dame Bragwaine and Sir Dinas rode to the court of King Mark, and told the queen, La Beale Isoud, that Sir Tristram was nigh her in that country. Then for very pure joy La Beale Isoud swooned; and when she might speak she said: Gentle knight Seneschal, help that I might speak with him, outher my heart will brast. Then Sir Dinas and Dame Bragwaine brought Sir Tristram and Kehydius privily unto the court, unto a chamber whereas La Beale Isoud had assigned it; and to tell the joys that were betwixt La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram, there is no tongue can tell it, nor heart think it, nor pen write it. And as the French book maketh mention, at the first time that ever Sir Kehydius saw La Beale Isoud he was so enamoured upon her that for very pure love he might never withdraw it. And at the last, as ye shall hear or the book be ended, Sir Kehydius died for the love of La Beale Isoud. And then privily he wrote unto her letters and ballads of the most goodliest that were used in those days. And when La Beale Isoud understood his letters she had pity of his complaint, and unavised she wrote another letter to comfort him withal.
And Sir Tristram was all this while in a turret at the commandment of La Beale Isoud, and when she might she came unto Sir Tristram. So on a day King Mark played at the chess under a chamber window; and at that time Sir Tristram and Sir Kehydius were within the chamber over King Mark, and as it mishapped Sir Tristram found the letter that Kehydius sent unto La Beale Isoud, also he had found the letter that she wrote unto Kehydius, and at that same time La Beale Isoud was in the same chamber. Then Sir Tristram came unto La Beale Isoud and said: Madam, here is a letter that was sent unto you, and here is the letter that ye sent unto him that sent you that letter. Alas, Madam, the good love that I have loved you; and many lands and riches have I forsaken for your love, and now ye are a traitress to me, the which doth me great pain. But as for thee, Sir Kehydius, I brought thee out of Brittany into this country, and thy father, King Howel, I won his lands, howbeit I wedded thy sister Isoud la Blanche Mains for the goodness she did unto me. And yet, as I am true knight, she is a clean maiden for me; but wit thou well, Sir Kehydius, for this falsehood and treason thou hast done me, I will revenge it upon thee. And therewithal Sir Tristram drew out his sword and said: Sir Kehydius, keep thee, and then La Beale Isoud swooned to the earth. And when Sir Kehydius saw Sir Tristram come upon him he saw none other boot, but leapt out at a bay-window even over the head where sat King Mark playing at the chess. And when the king saw one come hurling over his head he said: Fellow, what art thou, and what is the cause thou leapest out at that window? My lord the king, said Kehydius, it fortuned me that I was asleep in the window above your head, and as I slept I slumbered, and so I fell down. And thus Sir Kehydius excused him.
How Sir Tristram departed from Tintagil, and how he sorrowed and was so long in a forest till he was out of his mind.
THEN Sir Tristram dread sore lest he were discovered unto the king that he was there; wherefore he drew him to the strength of the Tower, and armed him in such armour as he had for to fight with them that would withstand him. And so when Sir Tristram saw there was no resistance against him he sent Gouvernail for his horse and his spear, and knightly he rode forth out of the castle openly, that was called the Castle of Tintagil. And even at gate he met with Gingalin, Sir Gawaine’s son. And anon Sir Gingalin put his spear in his rest, and ran upon Sir Tristram and brake his spear; and Sir Tristram at that time had but a sword, and gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he fell down from his saddle, and his sword slid adown, and carved asunder his horse’s neck. And so Sir Tristram rode his way into the forest, and all this doing saw King Mark. And then he sent a squire unto the hurt knight, and commanded him to come to him, and so he did. And when King Mark wist that it was Sir Gingalin he welcomed him and gave him an horse, and asked him what knight it was that had encountered with him. Sir, said Gingalin, I wot not what knight he was, but well I wot that he sigheth and maketh great dole.
Then Sir Tristram within a while met with a knight of his own, that hight Sir Fergus. And when he had met with him he made great sorrow, insomuch that he fell down off his horse in a swoon, and in such sorrow he was in three days and three nights. Then at the last Sir Tristram sent unto the court by Sir Fergus, for to spere what tidings. And so as he rode by the way he met with a damosel that came from Sir Palomides, to know and seek how Sir Tristram did. Then Sir Fergus told her how he was almost out of his mind. Alas, said the damosel, where shall I find him? In such a place, said Sir Fergus. Then Sir Fergus found Queen Isoud sick in her bed, making the greatest dole that ever any earthly woman made. And when the damosel found Sir Tristram she made great dole because she might not amend him, for the more she made of him the more was his pain. And at the last Sir Tristram took his horse and rode away from her. And then was it three days or that she could find him, and then she brought him meat and drink, but he would none; and then another time Sir Tristram escaped away from the damosel, and it happed him to ride by the same castle where Sir Palomides and Sir Tristram did battle when La Beale Isoud departed them. And there by fortune the damosel met with Sir Tristram again, making the greatest dole that ever earthly creature made; and she yede to the lady of that castle and told her of the misadventure of Sir Tristram. Alas, said the lady of that castle, where is my lord, Sir Tristram? Right here by your castle, said the damosel. In good time, said the lady, is he so nigh me; he shall have meat and drink of the best; and an harp I have of his whereupon he taught me, for of goodly harping he beareth the prize in the world. So this lady and damosel brought him meat and drink, but he ate little thereof. Then upon a night he put his horse from him, and then he unlaced his armour, and then Sir Tristram would go into the wilderness, and brast down the trees and boughs; and otherwhile when he found the harp that the lady sent him, then would he harp, and play thereupon and weep together. And sometime when Sir Tristram was in the wood that the lady wist not where he was, then would she sit her down and play upon that harp: then would Sir Tristram come to that harp, and hearken thereto, and sometime he would harp himself. Thus he there endured a quarter of a year. Then at the last he ran his way, and she wist not where he was become. And then was he naked and waxed lean and poor of flesh; and so he fell in the fellowship of herdmen and shepherds, and daily they would give him some of their meat and drink. And when he did any shrewd deed they would beat him with rods, and so they clipped him with shears and made him like a fool.
How Sir Tristram soused Dagonet in a well, and how Palomides sent a damosel to seek Tristram, and how Palomides met with King Mark.
AND upon a day Dagonet, King Arthur’s fool, came into Cornwall with two squires with him; and as they rode through that forest they came by a fair well where Sir Tristram was wont to be; and the weather was hot, and they alighted to drink of that well, and in the meanwhile their horses brake loose. Right so Sir Tristram came unto them, and first he soused Sir Dagonet in that well, and after his squires, and thereat laughed the shepherds; and forthwithal he ran after their horses and brought them again one by one, and right so, wet as they were, he made them leap up and ride their ways. Thus Sir Tristram endured there an half year naked, and would never come in town nor village. The meanwhile the damosel that Sir Palomides sent to seek Sir Tristram, she yede unto Sir Palomides and told him all the mischief that Sir Tristram endured. Alas, said Sir Palomides, it is great pity that ever so noble a knight should be so mischieved for the love of a lady; but nevertheless, I will go and seek him, and comfort him an I may. Then a little before that time La Beale Isoud had commanded Sir Kehydius out of the country of Cornwall. So Sir Kehydius departed with a dolorous heart, and by adventure he met with Sir Palomides, and they enfellowshipped together; and either complained to other of their hot love that they loved La Beale Isoud. Now let us, said Sir Palomides, seek Sir Tristram, that loved her as well as we, and let us prove whether we may recover him. So they rode into that forest, and three days and three nights they would never take their lodging, but ever sought Sir Tristram.
And upon a time, by adventure, they met with King Mark that was ridden from his men all alone. When they saw him Sir Palomides knew him, but Sir Kehydius knew him not. Ah, false king, said Sir Palomides, it is pity thou hast thy life, for thou art a destroyer of all worshipful knights, and by thy mischief and thy vengeance thou hast destroyed that most noble knight, Sir Tristram de Liones. And therefore defend thee, said Sir Palomides, for thou shalt die this day. That were shame, said King Mark, for ye two are armed and I am unarmed. As for that, said Sir Palomides, I shall find a remedy therefore; here is a knight with me, and thou shalt have his harness. Nay, said King Mark, I will not have ado with you, for cause have ye none to me; for all the misease that Sir Tristram hath was for a letter that he found; for as to me I did to him no displeasure, and God knoweth I am full sorry for his disease and malady. So when the king had thus excused him they were friends, and King Mark would have had them unto Tintagil; but Sir Palomides would not, but turned unto the realm of Logris, and Sir Kehydius said that he would go into Brittany.
Now turn we unto Sir Dagonet again, that when he and his squires were upon horseback he deemed that the shepherds had sent that fool to array them so, because that they laughed at them, and so they rode unto the keepers of beasts and all to-beat them. Sir Tristram saw them beat that were wont to give him meat and drink, then he ran thither and gat Sir Dagonet by the head, and gave him such a fall to the earth that he bruised him sore so that he lay still. And then he wrast his sword out of his hand, and therewith he ran to one of his squires and smote off his head, and the other fled. And so Sir Tristram took his way with that sword in his hand, running as he had been wild wood. Then Sir Dagonet rode to King Mark and told him how he had sped in that forest. And therefore, said Sir Dagonet, beware, King Mark, that thou come not about that well in the forest, for there is a fool naked, and that fool and I fool met together, and he had almost slain me. Ah, said King Mark, that is Sir Matto le Breune, that fell out of his wit because he lost his lady; for when Sir Gaheris smote down Sir Matto and won his lady of him, never since was he in his mind, and that was pity, for he was a good knight.
How it was noised how Sir Tristram was dead, and how La Beale Isoud would have slain herself.
THEN Sir Andred, that was cousin unto Sir Tristram, made a lady that was his paramour to say and to noise it that she was with Sir Tristram or ever he died. And this tale she brought unto King Mark’s court, that she buried him by a well, and that or he died he besought King Mark to make his cousin, Sir Andred, king of the country of Liones, of the which Sir Tristram was lord of. All this did Sir Andred because he would have had Sir Tristram’s lands. And when King Mark heard tell that Sir Tristram was dead he wept and made great dole. But when Queen Isoud heard of these tidings she made such sorrow that she was nigh out of her mind; and so upon a day she thought to slay herself and never to live after Sir Tristram’s death. And so upon a day La Beale Isoud gat a sword privily and bare it to her garden, and there she pight the sword through a plum tree up to the hilt, so that it stuck fast, and it stood breast high. And as she would have run upon the sword and to have slain herself all this espied King Mark, how she kneeled down and said: Sweet Lord Jesu, have mercy upon me, for I may not live after the death of Sir Tristram de Liones, for he was my first love and he shall be the last. And with these words came King Mark and took her in his arms, and then he took up the sword, and bare her away with him into a tower; and there he made her to be kept, and watched her surely, and after that she lay long sick, nigh at the point of death.
This meanwhile ran Sir Tristram naked in the forest with the sword in his hand, and so he came to an hermitage, and there he laid him down and slept; and in the meanwhile the hermit stole away his sword, and laid meat down by him. Thus was he kept there ten days; and at the last he departed and came to the herdmen again. And there was a giant in that country that hight Tauleas, and for fear of Sir Tristram more than seven year he durst never much go at large, but for the most part he kept him in a sure castle of his own; and so this Tauleas heard tell that Sir Tristram was dead, by the noise of the court of King Mark. Then this Tauleas went daily at large. And so he happed upon a day he came to the herdmen wandering and langering, and there he set him down to rest among them. The meanwhile there came a knight of Cornwall that led a lady with him, and his name was Sir Dinant; and when the giant saw him he went from the herdmen and hid him under a tree, and so the knight came to that well, and there he alighted to repose him. And as soon as he was from his horse this giant Tauleas came betwixt this knight and his horse, and took the horse and leapt upon him. So forthwith he rode unto Sir Dinant and took him by the collar, and pulled him afore him upon his horse, and there would have stricken off his head. Then the herdmen said unto Sir Tristram: Help yonder knight. Help ye him, said Sir Tristram. We dare not, said the herdmen. Then Sir Tristram was ware of the sword of the knight thereas it lay; and so thither he ran and took up the sword and struck off Sir Tauleas’ head, and so he yede his way to the herdmen.
How King Mark found Sir Tristram naked, and made him to be borne home to Tintagil, and how he was there known by a brachet.
THEN the knight took up the giant’s head and bare it with him unto King Mark, and told him what adventure betid him in the forest, and how a naked man rescued him from the grimly giant, Tauleas. Where had ye this adventure? said King Mark. Forsooth, said Sir Dinant, at the fair fountain in your forest where many adventurous knights meet, and there is the mad man. Well, said King Mark, I will see that wild man. So within a day or two King Mark commanded his knights and his hunters that they should be ready on the morn for to hunt, and so upon the morn he went unto that forest. And when the king came to that well he found there lying by that well a fair naked man, and a sword by him. Then King Mark blew and straked, and therewith his knights came to him; and then the king commanded his knights to: Take that naked man with fairness, and bring him to my castle. So they did softly and fair, and cast mantles upon Sir Tristram, and so led him unto Tintagil; and there they bathed him, and washed him, and gave him hot suppings till they had brought him well to his remembrance; but all this while there was no creature that knew Sir Tristram, nor what man he was.
So it fell upon a day that the queen, La Beale Isoud, heard of such a man, that ran naked in the forest, and how the king had brought him home to the court. Then La Beale Isoud called unto her Dame Bragwaine and said: Come on with me, for we will go see this man that my lord brought from the forest the last day. So they passed forth, and spered where was the sick man. And then a squire told the queen that he was in the garden taking his rest, and reposing him against the sun. So when the queen looked upon Sir Tristram she was not remembered of him. But ever she said unto Dame Bragwaine: Meseemeth I should have seen him heretofore in many places. But as soon as Sir Tristram saw her he knew her well enough. And then he turned away his visage and wept.
Then the queen had always a little brachet with her that Sir Tristram gave her the first time that ever she came into Cornwall, and never would that brachet depart from her but if Sir Tristram was nigh thereas was La Beale Isoud; and this brachet was sent from the king’s daughter of France unto Sir Tristram for great love. And anon as this little brachet felt a savour of Sir Tristram, she leapt upon him and licked his lears and his ears, and then she whined and quested, and she smelled at his feet and at his hands, and on all parts of his body that she might come to. Ah, my lady, said Dame Bragwaine unto La Beale Isoud, alas, alas, said she, I see it is mine own lord, Sir Tristram. And thereupon Isoud fell down in a swoon, and so lay a great while And when she might speak she said: My lord Sir Tristram, blessed be God ye have your life, and now I am sure ye shall be discovered by this little brachet, for she will never leave you. And also I am sure as soon as my lord, King Mark, do know you he will banish you out of the country of Cornwall, or else he will destroy you; for God’s sake, mine own lord, grant King Mark his will, and then draw you unto the court of King Arthur, for there are ye beloved, and ever when I may I shall send unto you; and when ye list ye may come to me, and at all times early and late I will be at your commandment, to live as poor a life as ever did queen or lady. O Madam, said Sir Tristram, go from me, for mickle anger and danger have I escaped for your love.
How King Mark, by the advice of his council, banished Sir Tristram out of Cornwall the term of ten years.
THEN the queen departed, but the brachet would not from him; and therewithal came King Mark, and the brachet set upon him, and bayed at them all. There withal Sir Andred spake and said: Sir, this is Sir Tristram, I see by the brachet. Nay, said the king, I cannot suppose that. Then the king asked him upon his faith what he was, and what was his name. So God me help, said he, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones; now do by me what ye list. Ah, said King Mark, me repenteth of your recovery. And then he let call his barons to judge Sir Tristram to the death. Then many of his barons would not assent thereto, and in especial Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, and Sir Fergus. And so by the advice of them all Sir Tristram was banished out of the country for ten year, and thereupon he took his oath upon a book before the king and his barons. And so he was made to depart out of the country of Cornwall; and there were many barons brought him unto his ship, of the which some were his friends and some his foes. And in the meanwhile there came a knight of King Arthur’s, his name was Dinadan, and his coming was for to seek after Sir Tristram; then they showed him where he was armed at all points going to the ship. Now fair knight, said Sir Dinadan, or ye pass this court that ye will joust with me I require thee. With a good will, said Sir Tristram, an these lords will give me leave. Then the barons granted thereto, and so they ran together, and there Sir Tristram gave Sir Dinadan a fall. And then he prayed Sir Tristram to give him leave to go in his fellowship. Ye shall be right welcome, said then Sir Tristram.
And so they took their horses and rode to their ships together, and when Sir Tristram was in the sea he said: Greet well King Mark and all mine enemies, and say them I will come again when I may; and well am I rewarded for the fighting with Sir Marhaus, and delivered all this country from servage; and well am I rewarded for the fetching and costs of Queen Isoud out of Ireland, and the danger that I was in first and last, and by the way coming home what danger I had to bring again Queen Isoud from the Castle Pluere; and well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Bleoberis for Sir Segwarides’ wife; and well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Blamore de Ganis for King Anguish, father unto La Beale Isoud; and well am I rewarded when I smote down the good knight, Sir Lamorak de Galis, at King Mark’s request; and well am I rewarded when I fought with the King with the Hundred Knights, and the King of Northgalis, and both these would have put his land in servage, and by me they were put to a rebuke; and well am I rewarded for the slaying of Tauleas, the mighty giant, and many other deeds have I done for him, and now have I my warison. And tell King Mark that many noble knights of the Table Round have spared the barons of this country for my sake. Also am I not well rewarded when I fought with the good knight Sir Palomides and rescued Queen Isoud from him; and at that time King Mark said afore all his barons I should have been better rewarded. And forthwithal he took the sea.
How a damosel sought help to help Sir Launcelot against thirty knights, and how Sir Tristram fought with them.
AND at the next landing, fast by the sea, there met with Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan, Sir Ector de Maris and Sir Bors de Ganis; and there Sir Ector jousted with Sir Dinadan, and he smote him and his horse down. And then Sir Tristram would have jousted with Sir Bors, and Sir Bors said that he would not joust with no Cornish knights, for they are not called men of worship; and all this was done upon a bridge. And with this came Sir Bleoberis and Sir Driant, and Sir Bleoberis proffered to joust with Sir Tristram, and there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Bleoberis. Then said Sir Bors de Ganis: I wist never Cornish knight of so great valour nor so valiant as that knight that beareth the trappings embroidered with crowns. And then Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan departed from them into a forest, and there met them a damosel that came for the love of Sir Launcelot to seek after some noble knights of King Arthur’s court for to rescue Sir Launcelot. And so Sir Launcelot was ordained, for-by the treason of Queen Morgan le Fay to have slain Sir Launcelot, and for that cause she ordained thirty knights to lie in await for Sir Launcelot, and this damosel knew this treason. And for this cause the damosel came for to seek noble knights to help Sir Launcelot. For that night, or the day after, Sir Launcelot should come where these thirty knights were. And so this damosel met with Sir Bors and Sir Ector and with Sir Driant, and there she told them all four of the treason of Morgan le Fay; and then they promised her that they would be nigh where Sir Launcelot should meet with the thirty knights. And if so be they set upon him we will do rescues as we can.
So the damosel departed, and by adventure the damosel met with Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan, and there the damosel told them all the treason that was ordained for Sir Launcelot. Fair damosel, said Sir Tristram, bring me to that same place where they should meet with Sir Launcelot. Then said Sir Dinadan: What will ye do? it is not for us to fight with thirty knights, and wit you well I will not thereof; as to match one knight two or three is enough an they be men, but for to match fifteen knights that will I never undertake. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, do but your part. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, I will not thereof but if ye will lend me your shield, for ye bear a shield of Cornwall; and for the cowardice that is named to the knights of Cornwall, by your shields ye be ever forborne. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will not depart from my shield for her sake that gave it me. But one thing, said Sir Tristram, I promise thee, Sir Dinadan, but if thou wilt promise me to abide with me, here I shall slay thee, for I desire no more of thee but answer one knight. And if thy heart will not serve thee, stand by and look upon me and them. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, I promise you to look upon and to do what I may to save myself, but I would I had not met with you.
So then anon these thirty knights came fast by these four knights, and they were ware of them, and either of other. And so these thirty knights let them pass, for this cause, that they would not wrath them, if case be that they had ado with Sir Launcelot; and the four knights let them pass to this intent, that they would see and behold what they would do with Sir Launcelot. And so the thirty knights passed on and came by Sir Tristram and by Sir Dinadan, and then Sir Tristram cried on high: Lo, here is a knight against you for the love of Sir Launcelot. And there he slew two with one spear and ten with his sword. And then came in Sir Dinadan and he did passing well, and so of the thirty knights there went but ten away, and they fled. All this battle saw Sir Bors de Ganis and his three fellows, and then they saw well it was the same knight that jousted with them at the bridge; then they took their horses and rode unto Sir Tristram, and praised him and thanked him of his good deeds, and they all desired Sir Tristram to go with them to their lodging; and he said: Nay, he would not go to no lodging. Then they all four knights prayed him to tell them his name. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, as at this time I will not tell you my name.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan came to a lodging where they must joust with two knights.
THEN Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode forth their way till they came to the shepherds and to the herdmen, and there they asked them if they knew any lodging or harbour there nigh hand. Forsooth, sirs, said the herdmen, hereby is good lodging in a castle; but there is such a custom that there shall no knight be harboured but if he joust with two knights, and if he be but one knight he must joust with two. And as ye be therein soon shall ye be matched. There is shrewd harbour, said Sir Dinadan; lodge where ye will, for I will not lodge there. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, are ye not a knight of the Table Round? wherefore ye may not with your worship refuse your lodging. Not so, said the herdmen, for an ye be beaten and have the worse ye shall not be lodged there, and if ye beat them ye shall be well harboured. Ah, said Sir Dinadan, they are two sure knights. Then Sir Dinadan would not lodge there in no manner but as Sir Tristram required him of his knighthood; and so they rode thither. And to make short tale, Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan smote them down both, and so they entered into the castle and had good cheer as they could think or devise.
And when they were unarmed, and thought to be merry and in good rest, there came in at the gates Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris, requiring to have the custom of the castle. What array is this? said Sir Dinadan, I would have my rest. That may not be, said Sir Tristram; now must we needs defend the custom of this castle, insomuch as we have the better of the lords of this castle, and therefore, said Sir Tristram, needs must ye make you ready. In the devil’s name, said Sir Dinadan, came I into your company. And so they made them ready; and Sir Gaheris encountered with Sir Tristram, and Sir Gaheris had a fall; and Sir Palomides encountered with Sir Dinadan, and Sir Dinadan had a fall: then was it fall for fall. So then must they fight on foot. That would not Sir Dinadan, for he was so sore bruised of the fall that Sir Palomides gave him. Then Sir Tristram unlaced Sir Dinadan’s helm, and prayed him to help him. I will not, said Sir Dinadan, for I am sore wounded of the thirty knights that we had but late ago to do withal. But ye fare, said Sir Dinadan unto Sir Tristram, as a madman and as a man that is out of his mind that would cast himself away, and I may curse the time that ever I saw you, for in all the world are not two such knights that be so wood as is Sir Launcelot and ye Sir Tristram; for once I fell in the fellowship of Sir Launcelot as I have done now with you, and he set me a work that a quarter of a year I kept my bed. Jesu defend me, said Sir Dinadan, from such two knights, and specially from your fellowship. Then, said Sir Tristram, I will fight with them both. Then Sir Tristram bade them come forth both, for I will fight with you. Then Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris dressed them, and smote at them both. Then Dinadan smote at Sir Gaheris a stroke or two, and turned from him. Nay, said Sir Palomides, it is too much shame for us two knights to fight with one. And then he did bid Sir Gaheris stand aside with that knight that hath no list to fight. Then they rode together and fought long, and at the last Sir Tristram doubled his strokes, and drove Sir Palomides aback more than three strides. And then by one assent Sir Gaheris and Sir Dinadan went betwixt them, and departed them in-sunder. And then by assent of Sir Tristram they would have lodged together. But Sir Dinadan would not lodge in that castle. And then he cursed the time that ever he came in their fellowship, and so he took his horse, and his harness, and departed.
Then Sir Tristram prayed the lords of that castle to lend him a man to bring him to a lodging, and so they did, and overtook Sir Dinadan, and rode to their lodging two mile thence with a good man in a priory, and there they were well at ease. And that same night Sir Bors and Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Ector and Sir Driant, abode still in the same place thereas Sir Tristram fought with the thirty knights; and there they met with Sir Launcelot the same night, and had made promise to lodge with Sir Colgrevance the same night.
How Sir Tristram jousted with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and how Sir Gawaine turned Sir Tristram from Morgan le Fay.
BUT anon as the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, heard of the shield of Cornwall, then wist he well that it was Sir Tristram that fought with his enemies. And then Sir Launcelot praised Sir Tristram, and called him the man of most worship in the world. So there was a knight in that priory that hight Pellinore, and he desired to wit the name of Sir Tristram, but in no wise he could not; and so Sir Tristram departed and left Sir Dinadan in the priory, for he was so weary and so sore bruised that he might not ride. Then this knight, Sir Pellinore, said to Sir Dinadan: Sithen that ye will not tell me that knight’s name I will ride after him and make him to tell me his name, or he shall die therefore. Beware, sir knight, said Sir Dinadan, for an ye follow him ye shall repent it. So that knight, Sir Pellinore, rode after Sir Tristram and required him of jousts. Then Sir Tristram smote him down and wounded him through the shoulder, and so he passed on his way. And on the next day following Sir Tristram met with pursuivants, and they told him that there was made a great cry of tournament between King Carados of Scotland and the King of North Wales, and either should joust against other at the Castle of Maidens; and these pursuivants sought all the country after the good knights, and in especial King Carados let make seeking for Sir Launcelot du Lake, and the King of Northgalis let seek after Sir Tristram de Liones. And at that time Sir Tristram thought to be at that jousts; and so by adventure they met with Sir Kay, the Seneschal, and Sir Sagramore le Desirous; and Sir Kay required Sir Tristram to joust, and Sir Tristram in a manner refused him, because he would not be hurt nor bruised against the great jousts that should be before the Castle of Maidens, and therefore thought to repose him and to rest him. And alway Sir Kay cried: Sir knight of Cornwall, joust with me, or else yield thee to me as recreant. When Sir Tristram heard him say so he turned to him, and then Sir Kay refused him and turned his back. Then Sir Tristram said: As I find thee I shall take thee. Then Sir Kay turned with evil will, and Sir Tristram smote Sir Kay down, and so he rode forth.
Then Sir Sagramore le Desirous rode after Sir Tristram, and made him to joust with him, and there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Sagramore le Desirous from his horse, and rode his way; and the same day he met with a damosel that told him that he should win great worship of a knight adventurous that did much harm in all that country. When Sir Tristram heard her say so, he was glad to go with her to win worship. So Sir Tristram rode with that damosel a six mile, and then met him Sir Gawaine, and therewithal Sir Gawaine knew the damosel, that she was a damosel of Queen Morgan le Fay. Then Sir Gawaine understood that she led that knight to some mischief. Fair knight, said Sir Gawaine, whither ride you now with that damosel? Sir, said Sir Tristram, I wot not whither I shall ride but as the damosel will lead me. Sir, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall not ride with her, for she and her lady did never good, but ill. And then Sir Gawaine pulled out his sword and said: Damosel, but if thou tell me anon for what cause thou leadest this knight with thee thou shalt die for it right anon: I know all your lady’s treason, and yours. Mercy, Sir Gawaine, she said, and if ye will save my life I will tell you. Say on, said Sir Gawaine, and thou shalt have thy life. Sir, she said, Queen Morgan le Fay, my lady, hath ordained a thirty ladies to seek and espy after Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram, and by the trains of these ladies, who that may first meet any of these two knights they should turn them unto Morgan le Fay’s castle, saying that they should do deeds of worship; and if any of the two knights came there, there be thirty knights lying and watching in a tower to wait upon Sir Launcelot or upon Sir Tristram. Fie for shame, said Sir Gawaine, that ever such false treason should be wrought or used in a queen, and a king’s sister, and a king and queen’s daughter.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Gawaine rode to have foughten with the thirty knights, but they durst not come out.
SIR, said Sir Gawaine, will ye stand with me, and we will see the malice of these thirty knights. Sir, said Sir Tristram, go ye to them, an it please you, and ye shall see I will not fail you, for it is not long ago since I and a fellow met with thirty knights of that queen’s fellowship; and God speed us so that we may win worship. So then Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram rode toward the castle where Morgan le Fay was, and ever Sir Gawaine deemed well that he was Sir Tristram de Liones, because he heard that two knights had slain and beaten thirty knights. And when they came afore the castle Sir Gawaine spake on high and said: Queen Morgan le Fay, send out your knights that ye have laid in a watch for Sir Launcelot and for Sir Tristram. Now, said Sir Gawaine, I know your false treason, and through all places where that I ride men shall know of your false treason; and now let see, said Sir Gawaine, whether ye dare come out of your castle, ye thirty knights. Then the queen spake and all the thirty knights at once, and said: Sir Gawaine, full well wottest thou what thou dost and sayest; for by God we know thee passing well, but all that thou speakest and dost, thou sayest it upon pride of that good knight that is there with thee. For there be some of us that know full well the hands of that knight over all well. And wit thou well, Sir Gawaine, it is more for his sake than for thine that we will not come out of this castle. For wit ye well, Sir Gawaine, the knight that beareth the arms of Cornwall, we know him and what he is.
Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram departed and rode on their ways a day or two together; and there by adventure, they met with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le Desirous. And then they were glad of Sir Gawaine, and he of them, but they wist not what he was with the shield of Cornwall, but by deeming. And thus they rode together a day or two. And then they were ware of Sir Breuse Saunce Pite chasing a lady for to have slain her, for he had slain her paramour afore. Hold you all still, said Sir Gawaine, and show none of you forth, and ye shall see me reward yonder false knight; for an he espy you he is so well horsed that he will escape away. And then Sir Gawaine rode betwixt Sir Breuse and the lady, and said: False knight, leave her, and have ado with me. When Sir Breuse saw no more but Sir Gawaine he feutred his spear, and Sir Gawaine against him; and there Sir Breuse overthrew Sir Gawaine, and then he rode over him, and overthwart him twenty times to have destroyed him; and when Sir Tristram saw him do so villainous a deed, he hurled out against him. And when Sir Breuse saw him with the shield of Cornwall he knew him well that it was Sir Tristram, and then he fled, and Sir Tristram followed after him; and Sir Breuse Saunce Pite was so horsed that he went his way quite, and Sir Tristram followed him long, for he would fain have been avenged upon him. And so when he had long chased him, he saw a fair well, and thither he rode to repose him, and tied his horse till a tree.
How damosel Bragwaine found Tristram sleeping by a well, and how she delivered letters to him from La Beale Isoud.
AND then he pulled off his helm and washed his visage and his hands, and so he fell asleep. In the meanwhile came a damosel that had sought Sir Tristram many ways and days within this land. And when she came to the well she looked upon him, and had forgotten him as in remembrance of Sir Tristram, but by his horse she knew him, that hight Passe-Brewel that had been Sir Tristram’s horse many years. For when he was mad in the forest Sir Fergus kept him. So this lady, Dame Bragwaine, abode still till he was awake. So when she saw him wake she saluted him, and he her again, for either knew other of old acquaintance; then she told him how she had sought him long and broad, and there she told him how she had letters from Queen La Beale Isoud. Then anon Sir Tristram read them, and wit ye well he was glad, for therein was many a piteous complaint. Then Sir Tristram said: Lady Bragwaine, ye shall ride with me till that tournament be done at the Castle of Maidens, and then shall bear letters and tidings with you. And then Sir Tristram took his horse and sought lodging, and there he met with a good ancient knight and prayed him to lodge with him. Right so came Gouvernail unto Sir Tristram, that was glad of that lady. So this old knight’s name was Sir Pellounes, and he told of the great tournament that should be at the Castle of Maidens. And there Sir Launcelot and thirty-two knights of his blood had ordained shields of Cornwall. And right so there came one unto Sir Pellounes, and told him that Sir Persides de Bloise was come home; then that knight held up his hands and thanked God of his coming home. And there Sir Pellounes told Sir Tristram that in two years he had not seen his son, Sir Persides. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I know your son well enough for a good knight.
So on a time Sir Tristram and Sir Persides came to their lodging both at once, and so they unarmed them, and put upon them their clothing. And then these two knights each welcomed other. And when Sir Persides understood that Sir Tristram was of Cornwall, he said he was once in Cornwall: And there I jousted afore King Mark; and so it happed me at that time to overthrow ten knights, and then came to me Sir Tristram de Liones and overthrew me, and took my lady away from me, and that shall I never forget, but I shall remember me an ever I see my time. Ah, said Sir Tristram, now I understand that ye hate Sir Tristram. What deem ye, ween ye that Sir Tristram is not able to withstand your malice? Yes, said Sir Persides, I know well that Sir Tristram is a noble knight and a much better knight than I, yet shall I not owe him my good will. Right as they stood thus talking at a bay-window of that castle, they saw many knights riding to and fro toward the tournament. And then was Sir Tristram ware of a likely knight riding upon a great black horse, and a black-covered shield. What knight is that, said Sir Tristram, with the black horse and the black shield? he seemeth a good knight. I know him well, said Sir Persides, he is one of the best knights of the world. Then is it Sir Launcelot, said Tristram. Nay, said Sir Persides, it is Sir Palomides, that is yet unchristened.
How Sir Tristram had a fall with Sir Palomides, and how Launcelot overthrew two knights.
THEN they saw much people of the country salute Sir Palomides. And within a while after there came a squire of the castle, that told Sir Pellounes that was lord of that castle, that a knight with a black shield had smitten down thirteen knights. Fair brother, said Sir Tristram unto Sir Persides, let us cast upon us cloaks, and let us go see the play. Not so, said Sir Persides, we will not go like knaves thither, but we will ride like men and good knights to withstand our enemies. So they armed them, and took their horses and great spears, and thither they went thereas many knights assayed themself before the tournament. And anon Sir Palomides saw Sir Persides, and then he sent a squire unto him and said: Go thou to the yonder knight with the green shield and therein a lion of gold, and say him I require him to joust with me, and tell him that my name is Sir Palomides. When Sir Persides understood that request of Sir Palomides, he made him ready, and there anon they met together, but Sir Persides had a fall. Then Sir Tristram dressed him to be revenged upon Sir Palomides, and that saw Sir Palomides that was ready and so was not Sir Tristram, and took him at an advantage and smote him over his horse’s tail when he had no spear in his rest. Then stert up Sir Tristram and took his horse lightly, and was wroth out of measure, and sore ashamed of that fall. Then Sir Tristram sent unto Sir Palomides by Gouvernail, and prayed him to joust with him at his request. Nay, said Sir Palomides, as at this time I will not joust with that knight, for I know him better than he weeneth. And if he be wroth he may right it to-morn at the Castle of Maidens, where he may see me and many other knights.
With that came Sir Dinadan, and when he saw Sir Tristram wroth he list not to jape. Lo, said Sir Dinadan, here may a man prove, be a man never so good yet may he have a fall, and he was never so wise but he might be overseen, and he rideth well that never fell. So Sir Tristram was passing wroth, and said to Sir Persides and to Sir Dinadan: I will revenge me. Right so as they stood talking there, there came by Sir Tristram a likely knight riding passing soberly and heavily with a black shield. What knight is that? said Sir Tristram unto Sir Persides. I know him well, said Sir Persides, for his name is Sir Briant of North Wales; so he passed on among other knights of North Wales. And there came in Sir Launcelot du Lake with a shield of the arms of Cornwall, and he sent a squire unto Sir Briant, and required him to joust with him. Well, said Sir Briant, sithen I am required to joust I will do what I may; and there Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Briant from his horse a great fall. And then Sir Tristram marvelled what knight he was that bare the shield of Cornwall. Whatsoever he be, said Sir Dinadan, I warrant you he is of King Ban’s blood, the which be knights of the most noble prowess in the world, for to account so many for so many. Then there came two knights of Northgalis, that one hight Hew de la Montaine, and the other Sir Madok de la Montaine, and they challenged Sir Launcelot foot-hot. Sir Launcelot not refusing them but made him ready, with one spear he smote them down both over their horses’ croups; and so Sir Launcelot rode his way. By the good lord, said Sir Tristram, he is a good knight that beareth the shield of Cornwall, and meseemeth he rideth in the best manner that ever I saw knight ride.
Then the King of Northgalis rode unto Sir Palomides and prayed him heartily for his sake to joust with that knight that hath done us of Northgalis despite. Sir, said Sir Palomides, I am full loath to have ado with that knight, and cause why is, for as to-morn the great tournament shall be; and therefore I will keep myself fresh by my will. Nay, said the King of Northgalis, I pray you require him of jousts. Sir, said Sir Palomides, I will joust at your request, and require that knight to joust with me, and often I have seen a man have a fall at his own request.
How Sir Launcelot jousted with Palomides and overthrew him, and after he was assailed with twelve knights.
THEN Sir Palomides sent unto Sir Launcelot a squire, and required him of jousts. Fair fellow, said Sir Launcelot, tell me thy lord’s name. Sir, said the squire, my lord’s name is Sir Palomides, the good knight. In good hour, said Sir Launcelot, for there is no knight that I saw this seven years that I had liefer ado withal than with him. And so either knights made them ready with two great spears. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, ye shall see that Sir Palomides will quit him right well. It may be so, said Sir Tristram, but I undertake that knight with the shield of Cornwall shall give him a fall. I believe it not, said Sir Dinadan. Right so they spurred their horses and feutred their spears, and either hit other, and Sir Palomides brake a spear upon Sir Launcelot, and he sat and moved not; but Sir Launcelot smote him so lightly that he made his horse to avoid the saddle, and the stroke brake his shield and the hauberk, and had he not fallen he had been slain. How now, said Sir Tristram, I wist well by the manner of their riding both that Sir Palomides should have a fall.
Right so Sir Launcelot rode his way, and rode to a well to drink and to repose him, and they of Northgalis espied him whither he rode; and then there followed him twelve knights for to have mischieved him, for this cause that upon the morn at the tournament of the Castle of Maidens that he should not win the victory. So they came upon Sir Launcelot suddenly, and unnethe he might put upon him his helm and take his horse, but they were in hands with him; and then Sir Launcelot gat his spear, and rode through them, and there he slew a knight and brake a spear in his body. Then he drew his sword and smote upon the right hand and upon the left hand, so that within a few strokes he had slain other three knights, and the remnant that abode he wounded them sore all that did abide. Thus Sir Launcelot escaped from his enemies of North Wales, and then Sir Launcelot rode his way till a friend, and lodged him till on the morn; for he would not the first day have ado in the tournament because of his great labour. And on the first day he was with King Arthur thereas he was set on high upon a scaffold to discern who was best worthy of his deeds. So Sir Launcelot was with King Arthur, and jousted not the first day.
How Sir Tristram behaved him the first day of the tournament, and there he had the prize.
NOW turn we unto Sir Tristram de Liones, that commanded Gouvernail, his servant, to ordain him a black shield with none other remembrance therein. And so Sir Persides and Sir Tristram departed from their host Sir Pellounes, and they rode early toward the tournament, and then they drew them to King Carados’ side, of Scotland; and anon knights began the field what of King Northgalis’ part, and what of King Carados’ part, and there began great party. Then there was hurling and rashing. Right so came in Sir Persides and Sir Tristram and so they did fare that they put the King of Northgalis aback. Then came in Sir Bleoberis de Ganis and Sir Gaheris with them of Northgalis, and then was Sir Persides smitten down and almost slain, for more than forty horse men went over him. For Sir Bleoberis did great deeds of arms, and Sir Gaheris failed him not. When Sir Tristram beheld them, and saw them do such deeds of arms, he marvelled what they were. Also Sir Tristram thought shame that Sir Persides was so done to; and then he gat a great spear in his hand, and then he rode to Sir Gaheris and smote him down from his horse. And then was Sir Bleoberis wroth, and gat a spear and rode against Sir Tristram in great ire; and there Sir Tristram met with him, and smote Sir Bleoberis from his horse So then the King with the Hundred Knights was wroth, and he horsed Sir Bleoberis and Sir Gaheris again, and there began a great medley; and ever Sir Tristram held them passing short, and ever Sir Bleoberis was passing busy upon Sir Tristram; and there came Sir Dinadan against Sir Tristram, and Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet that he swooned in his saddle. Then anon Sir Dinadan came to Sir Tristram and said: Sir, I know thee better than thou weenest; but here I promise thee my troth I will never come against thee more, for I promise thee that sword of thine shall never come on mine helm.
With that came Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet that down he laid his head; and then he caught him so sore by the helm that he pulled him under his horse’s feet. And then King Arthur blew to lodging. Then Sir Tristram departed to his pavilion, and Sir Dinadan rode with him; and Sir Persides and King Arthur then, and the kings upon both parties, marvelled what knight that was with the black shield. Many said their advice, and some knew him for Sir Tristram, and held their peace and would nought say. So that first day King Arthur, and all the kings and lords that were judges, gave Sir Tristram the prize; howbeit they knew him not, but named him the Knight with the Black Shield.
How Sir Tristram returned against King Arthur’s party because he saw Sir Palomides on that party.
THEN upon the morn Sir Palomides returned from the King of Northgalis, and rode to King Arthur’s side, where was King Carados, and the King of Ireland, and Sir Launcelot’s kin, and Sir Gawaine’s kin. So Sir Palomides sent the damosel unto Sir Tristram that he sent to seek him when he was out of his mind in the forest, and this damosel asked Sir Tristram what he was and what was his name? As for that, said Sir Tristram, tell Sir Palomides ye shall not wit as at this time unto the time I have broken two spears upon him. But let him wit thus much, said Sir Tristram, that I am the same knight that he smote down in over-evening10 at the tournament; and tell him plainly on what party that Sir Palomides be I will be of the contrary party. Sir, said the damosel, ye shall understand that Sir Palomides will be on King Arthur’s side, where the most noble knights of the world be. In the name of God, said Sir Tristram, then will I be with the King of Northgalis, because Sir Palomides will be on King Arthur’s side, and else I would not but for his sake. So when King Arthur was come they blew unto the field; and then there began a great party, and so King Carados jousted with the King of the Hundred Knights, and there King Carados had a fall: then was there hurling and rushing, and right so came in knights of King Arthur’s, and they bare aback the King of Northgalis’ knights.
10 “the evening afore,” W. de W.
Then Sir Tristram came in, and began so roughly and so bigly that there was none might withstand him, and thus Sir Tristram dured long. And at the last Sir Tristram fell among the fellowship of King Ban, and there fell upon him Sir Bors de Ganis, and Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Blamore de Ganis, and many other knights. And then Sir Tristram smote on the right hand and on the left hand, that all lords and ladies spake of his noble deeds. But at the last Sir Tristram should have had the worse had not the King with the Hundred Knights been. And then he came with his fellowship and rescued Sir Tristram, and brought him away from those knights that bare the shields of Cornwall. And then Sir Tristram saw another fellowship by themself, and there were a forty knights together, and Sir Kay, the Seneschal, was their governor. Then Sir Tristram rode in amongst them, and there he smote down Sir Kay from his horse; and there he fared among those knights like a greyhound among conies.
Then Sir Launcelot found a knight that was sore wounded upon the head. Sir, said Sir Launcelot, who wounded you so sore? Sir, he said, a knight that beareth a black shield, and I may curse the time that ever I met with him, for he is a devil and no man. So Sir Launcelot departed from him and thought to meet with Sir Tristram, and so he rode with his sword drawn in his hand to seek Sir Tristram; and then he espied him how he hurled here and there, and at every stroke Sir Tristram wellnigh smote down a knight. O mercy Jesu! said the king, sith the times I bare arms saw I never no knight do so marvellous deeds of arms. And if I should set upon this knight, said Sir Launcelot to himself, I did shame to myself, and therewithal Sir Launcelot put up his sword. And then the King with the Hundred Knights and an hundred more of North Wales set upon the twenty of Sir Launcelot’s kin: and they twenty knights held them ever together as wild swine, and none would fail other. And so when Sir Tristram beheld the noblesse or these twenty knights he marvelled of their good deeds, for he saw by their fare and by their rule that they had liefer die than avoid the field. Now Jesu, said Sir Tristram, well may he be valiant and full of prowess that hath such a sort of noble knights unto his kin, and full like is he to be a noble man that is their leader and governor. He meant it by Sir Launcelot du Lake. So when Sir Tristram had beholden them long he thought shame to see two hundred knights battering upon twenty knights. Then Sir Tristram rode unto the King with the Hundred Knights and said: Sir, leave your fighting with those twenty knights, for ye win no worship of them, ye be so many and they so few; and wit ye well they will not out of the field I see by their cheer and countenance; and worship get ye none an ye slay them. Therefore leave your fighting with them, for I to increase my worship I will ride to the twenty knights and help them with all my might and power. Nay, said the King with the Hundred Knights, ye shall not do so; now I see your courage and courtesy I will withdraw my knights for your pleasure, for evermore a good knight will favour another, and like will draw to like.
How Sir Tristram found Palomides by a well, and brought him with him to his lodging.
THEN the King with the Hundred Knights withdrew his knights. And all this while, and long tofore, Sir Launcelot had watched upon Sir Tristram with a very purpose to have fellowshipped with him. And then suddenly Sir Tristram, Sir Dinadan, and Gouvernail, his man, rode their way into the forest, that no man perceived where they went. So then King Arthur blew unto lodging, and gave the King of Northgalis the prize because Sir Tristram was upon his side. Then Sir Launcelot rode here and there, so wood as lion that fauted his fill, because he had lost Sir Tristram, and so he returned unto King Arthur. And then in all the field was a noise that with the wind it might be heard two mile thence, how the lords and ladies cried: The Knight with the Black Shield hath won the field. Alas, said King Arthur, where is that knight become? It is shame to all those in the field so to let him escape away from you; but with gentleness and courtesy ye might have brought him unto me to the Castle of Maidens. Then the noble King Arthur went unto his knights and comforted them in the best wise that he could, and said: My fair fellows, be not dismayed, howbeit ye have lost the field this day. And many were hurt and sore wounded, and many were whole. My fellows, said King Arthur, look that ye be of good cheer, for to-morn I will be in the field with you and revenge you of your enemies. So that night King Arthur and his knights reposed themself.
The damosel that came from La Beale Isoud unto Sir Tristram, all the while the tournament was a-doing she was with Queen Guenever, and ever the queen asked her for what cause she came into that country. Madam, she answered, I come for none other cause but from my lady La Beale Isoud to wit of your welfare. For in no wise she would not tell the queen that she came for Sir Tristram’s sake. So this lady, Dame Bragwaine, took her leave of Queen Guenever, and she rode after Sir Tristram. And as she rode through the forest she heard a great cry; then she commanded her squire to go into the forest to wit what was that noise. And so he came to a well, and there he found a knight bounden till a tree crying as he had been wood, and his horse and his harness standing by him. And when he espied that squire, therewith he abraid and brake himself loose, and took his sword in his hand, and ran to have slain the squire. Then he took his horse and fled all that ever he might unto Dame Bragwaine, and told her of his adventure. Then she rode unto Sir Tristram’s pavilion, and told Sir Tristram what adventure she had found in the forest. Alas, said Sir Tristram, upon my head there is some good knight at mischief.
Then Sir Tristram took his horse and his sword and rode thither, and there he heard how the knight complained unto himself and said: I, woful knight Sir Palomides, what misadventure befalleth me, that thus am defoiled with falsehood and treason, through Sir Bors and Sir Ector. Alas, he said, why live I so long! And then he gat his sword in his hands, and made many strange signs and tokens; and so through his raging he threw his sword into that fountain. Then Sir Palomides wailed and wrang his hands. And at the last for pure sorrow he ran into that fountain, over his belly, and sought after his sword. Then Sir Tristram saw that, and ran upon Sir Palomides, and held him in his arms fast. What art thou, said Palomides, that holdeth me so? I am a man of this forest that would thee none harm. Alas, said Sir Palomides, I may never win worship where Sir Tristram is; for ever where he is an I be there, then get I no worship; and if he be away for the most part I have the gree, unless that Sir Launcelot be there or Sir Lamorak. Then Sir Palomides said: Once in Ireland Sir Tristram put me to the worse, and another time in Cornwall, and in other places in this land. What would ye do, said Sir Tristram, an ye had Sir Tristram? I would fight with him, said Sir Palomides, and ease my heart upon him; and yet, to say thee sooth, Sir Tristram is the gentlest knight in this world living. What will ye do, said Sir Tristram, will ye go with me to your lodging? Nay, said he, I will go to the King with the Hundred Knights, for he rescued me from Sir Bors de Ganis and Sir Ector and else had I been slain traitorly. Sir Tristram said him such kind words that Sir Palomides went with him to his lodging. Then Gouvernail went tofore, and charged Dame Bragwaine to go out of the way to her lodging And bid ye Sir Persides that he make him no quarrels. And so they rode together till they came to Sir Tristram’s pavilion, and there Sir Palomides had all the cheer that might be had all that night. But in no wise Sir Palomides might not know what was Sir Tristram; and so after supper they yede to rest, and Sir Tristram for great travail slept till it was day. And Sir Palomides might not sleep for anguish; and in the dawning of the day he took his horse privily, and rode his way unto Sir Gaheris and unto Sir Sagramore le Desirous, where they were in their pavilions; for they three were fellows at the beginning of the tournament. And then upon the morn the king blew unto the tournament upon the third day.
How Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palomides, and how he jousted with King Arthur, and other feats.
SO the King of Northgalis and the King with the Hundred Knights, they two encountered with King Carados and with the King of Ireland; and there the King with the Hundred Knights smote down King Carados, and the King of Northgalis smote down the King of Ireland. With that came in Sir Palomides, and when he came he made great work, for by his indented shield he was well known. So came in King Arthur, and did great deeds of arms together, and put the King of Northgalis and the King with the Hundred Knights to the worse. With this came in Sir Tristram with his black shield, and anon he jousted with Sir Palomides, and there by fine force Sir Tristram smote Sir Palomides over his horse’s croup. Then King Arthur cried: Knight with the Black Shield, make thee ready to me, and in the same wise Sir Tristram smote King Arthur. And then by force of King Arthur’s knights the King and Sir Palomides were horsed again. Then King Arthur with a great eager heart he gat a spear in his hand, and there upon the one side he smote Sir Tristram over his horse. Then foot-hot Sir Palomides came upon Sir Tristram, as he was upon foot, to have overridden him. Then Sir Tristram was ware of him, and there he stooped aside, and with great ire he gat him by the arm, and pulled him down from his horse. Then Sir Palomides lightly arose, and then they dashed together mightily with their swords; and many kings, queens, and lords, stood and beheld them. And at the last Sir Tristram smote Sir Palomides upon the helm three mighty strokes, and at every stroke that he gave him he said: This for Sir Tristram’s sake. With that Sir Palomides fell to the earth grovelling.
Then came the King with the Hundred Knights, and brought Sir Tristram an horse, and so was he horsed again. By then was Sir Palomides horsed, and with great ire he jousted upon Sir Tristram with his spear as it was in the rest, and gave him a great dash with his sword. Then Sir Tristram avoided his spear, and gat him by the neck with his both hands, and pulled him clean out of his saddle, and so he bare him afore him the length of ten spears, and then in the presence of them all he let him fall at his adventure. Then Sir Tristram was ware of King Arthur with a naked sword in his hand, and with his spear Sir Tristram ran upon King Arthur; and then King Arthur boldly abode him and with his sword he smote a-two his spear, and therewithal Sir Tristram stonied; and so King Arthur gave him three or four strokes or he might get out his sword, and at the last Sir Tristram drew his sword and [either] assailed other passing hard. With that the great press departed [them]. Then Sir Tristram rode here and there and did his great pain, that eleven of the good knights of the blood of King Ban, that was of Sir Launcelot’s kin, that day Sir Tristram smote down; that all the estates marvelled of his great deeds and all cried upon the Knight with the Black Shield.
How Sir Launcelot hurt Sir Tristram, and how after Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palomides.
THEN this cry was so large that Sir Launcelot heard it. And then he gat a great spear in his hand and came towards the cry. Then Sir Launcelot cried: The Knight with the Black Shield, make thee ready to joust with me. When Sir Tristram heard him say so he gat his spear in his hand, and either abashed down their heads, and came together as thunder; and Sir Tristram’s spear brake in pieces, and Sir Launcelot by malfortune struck Sir Tristram on the side a deep wound nigh to the death; but yet Sir Tristram avoided not his saddle, and so the spear brake. Therewithal Sir Tristram that was wounded gat out his sword, and he rushed to Sir Launcelot, and gave him three great strokes upon the helm that the fire sprang thereout, and Sir Launcelot abashed his head lowly toward his saddle-bow. And therewithal Sir Tristram departed from the field, for he felt him so wounded that he weened he should have died; and Sir Dinadan espied him and followed him into the forest. Then Sir Launcelot abode and did many marvellous deeds.
So when Sir Tristram was departed by the forest’s side he alighted, and unlaced his harness and freshed his wound; then weened Sir Dinadan that he should have died. Nay, nay, said Sir Tristram, Dinadan never dread thee, for I am heart-whole, and of this wound I shall soon be whole, by the mercy of God. By that Sir Dinadan was ware where came Palomides riding straight upon them. And then Sir Tristram was ware that Sir Palomides came to have destroyed him. And so Sir Dinadan gave him warning, and said: Sir Tristram, my lord, ye are so sore wounded that ye may not have ado with him, therefore I will ride against him and do to him what I may, and if I be slain ye may pray for my soul; and in the meanwhile ye may withdraw you and go into the castle, or in the forest, that he shall not meet with you. Sir Tristram smiled and said: I thank you, Sir Dinadan, of your good will, but ye shall wit that I am able to handle him. And then anon hastily he armed him, and took his horse, and a great spear in his hand, and said to Sir Dinadan: Adieu; and rode toward Sir Palomides a soft pace. Then when Sir Palomides saw that, he made countenance to amend his horse, but he did it for this cause, for he abode Sir Gaheris that came after him. And when he was come he rode toward Sir Tristram. Then Sir Tristram sent unto Sir Palomides, and required him to joust with him; and if he smote down Sir Palomides he would do no more to him; and if it so happened that Sir Palomides smote down Sir Tristram, he bade him do his utterance. So they were accorded. Then they met together, and Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palomides that he had a grievous fall, so that he lay still as he had been dead. And then Sir Tristram ran upon Sir Gaheris, and he would not have jousted; but whether he would or not Sir Tristram smote him over his horse’s croup, that he lay still as though he had been dead. And then Sir Tristram rode his way and left Sir Persides’ squire within the pavilions, and Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode to an old knight’s place to lodge them. And that old knight had five sons at the tournament, for whom he prayed God heartily for their coming home. And so, as the French book saith, they came home all five well beaten.
And when Sir Tristram departed into the forest Sir Launcelot held alway the stour like hard, as a man araged that took no heed to himself, and wit ye well there was many a noble knight against him. And when King Arthur saw Sir Launcelot do so marvellous deeds of arms he then armed him, and took his horse and his armour, and rode into the field to help Sir Launcelot; and so many knights came in with King Arthur. And to make short tale in conclusion, the King of Northgalis and the King of the Hundred Knights were put to the worse; and because Sir Launcelot abode and was the last in the field the prize was given him. But Sir Launcelot would neither for king, queen, nor knight, have the prize, but where the cry was cried through the field: Sir Launcelot, Sir Launcelot hath won the field this day, Sir Launcelot let make another cry contrary: Sir Tristram hath won the field, for he began first, and last he hath endured, and so hath he done the first day, the second, and the third day.
How the prize of the third day was given to Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot gave it to Sir Tristram.
THEN all the estates and degrees high and low said of Sir Launcelot great worship, for the honour that he did unto Sir Tristram; and for that honour doing to Sir Tristram he was at that time more praised and renowned than an he had overthrown five hundred knights; and all the people wholly for this gentleness, first the estates both high and low, and after the commonalty cried at once: Sir Launcelot hath won the field whosoever say nay. Then was Sir Launcelot wroth and ashamed, and so therewithal he rode to King Arthur. Alas, said the king, we are all dismayed that Sir Tristram is thus departed from us. By God, said King Arthur, he is one of the noblest knights that ever I saw hold spear or sword in hand, and the most courteoust knight in his fighting; for full hard I saw him, said King Arthur, when he smote Sir Palomides upon the helm thrice, that he abashed his helm with his strokes, and also he said: Here is a stroke for Sir Tristram, and thus thrice he said. Then King Arthur, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Dodinas le Savage took their horses to seek Sir Tristram, and by the means of Sir Persides he had told King Arthur where Sir Tristram was in his pavilion. But when they came there, Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan were gone.
Then King Arthur and Sir Launcelot were heavy, and returned again to the Castle of Maidens making great dole for the hurt of Sir Tristram, and his sudden departing. So God me help, said King Arthur, I am more heavy that I cannot meet with him than for all the hurts that all my knights have had at the tournament. Right so came Sir Gaheris and told King Arthur how Sir Tristram had smitten down Sir Palomides, and it was at Sir Palomides’ own request. Alas, said King Arthur, that was great dishonour to Sir Palomides, inasmuch as Sir Tristram was sore wounded, and now may we all, kings, and knights, and men of worship, say that Sir Tristram may be called a noble knight, and one of the best knights that ever I saw the days of my life. For I will that ye all, kings and knights, know, said King Arthur, that I never saw knight do so marvellously as he hath done these three days; for he was the first that began and that longest held on, save this last day. And though he was hurt, it was a manly adventure of two noble knights, and when two noble men encounter needs must the one have the worse, like as God will suffer at that time. As for me, said Sir Launcelot, for all the lands that ever my father left me I would not have hurt Sir Tristram an I had known him at that time; that I hurt him was for I saw not his shield. For an I had seen his black shield, I would not have meddled with him for many causes; for late he did as much for me as ever did knight, and that is well known that he had ado with thirty knights, and no help save Sir Dinadan. And one thing shall I promise, said Sir Launcelot, Sir Palomides shall repent it as in his unkindly dealing for to follow that noble knight that I by mishap hurted thus. Sir Launcelot said all the worship that might be said by Sir Tristram. Then King Arthur made a great feast to all that would come. And thus we let pass King Arthur, and a little we will turn unto Sir Palomides, that after he had a fall of Sir Tristram, he was nigh-hand araged out of his wit for despite of Sir Tristram. And so he followed him by adventure. And as he came by a river, in his woodness he would have made his horse to have leapt over; and the horse failed footing and fell in the river, wherefore Sir Palomides was adread lest he should have been drowned; and then he avoided his horse, and swam to the land, and let his horse go down by adventure.
How Palomides came to the castle where Sir Tristram was, and of the quest that Sir Launcelot and ten knights made for Sir Tristram.
AND when he came to the land he took off his harness, and sat roaring and crying as a man out of his mind. Right so came a damosel even by Sir Palomides, that was sent from Sir Gawaine and his brother unto Sir Mordred, that lay sick in the same place with that old knight where Sir Tristram was. For, as the French book saith, Sir Persides hurt so Sir Mordred a ten days afore; and had it hot been for the love of Sir Gawaine and his brother, Sir Persides had slain Sir Mordred. And so this damosel came by Sir Palomides, and she and he had language together, the which pleased neither of them; and so the damosel rode her ways till she came to the old knight’s place, and there she told that old knight how she met with the woodest knight by adventure that ever she met withal. What bare he in his shield? said Sir Tristram. It was indented with white and black, said the damosel. Ah, said Sir Tristram, that was Sir Palomides, the good knight. For well I know him, said Sir Tristram, for one of the best knights living in this realm. Then that old knight took a little hackney, and rode for Sir Palomides, and brought him unto his own manor; and full well knew Sir Tristram Sir Palomides, but he said but little, for at that time Sir Tristram was walking upon his feet, and well amended of his hurts; and always when Sir Palomides saw Sir Tristram he would behold him full marvellously, and ever him seemed that he had seen him. Then would he say unto Sir Dinadan: An ever I may meet with Sir Tristram he shall not escape mine hands. I marvel, said Sir Dinadan, that ye boast behind Sir Tristram, for it is but late that he was in your hands, and ye in his hands; why would ye not hold him when ye had him? for I saw myself twice or thrice that ye gat but little worship of Sir Tristram. Then was Sir Palomides ashamed. So leave we them a little while in the old castle with the old knight Sir Darras.
Now shall we speak of King Arthur, that said to Sir Launcelot: Had not ye been we had not lost Sir Tristram, for he was here daily unto the time ye met with him, and in an evil time, said Arthur, ye encountered with him. My lord Arthur, said Launcelot, ye put upon me that I should be cause of his departition; God knoweth it was against my will. But when men be hot in deeds of arms oft they hurt their friends as well as their foes. And my lord, said Sir Launcelot, ye shall understand that Sir Tristram is a man that I am loath to offend, for he hath done for me more than ever I did for him as yet. But then Sir Launcelot made bring forth a book: and then Sir Launcelot said: Here we are ten knights that will swear upon a book never to rest one night where we rest another this twelvemonth until that we find Sir Tristram. And as for me, said Sir Launcelot, I promise you upon this book that an I may meet with him, either with fairness or foulness I shall bring him to this court, or else I shall die therefore. And the names of these ten knights that had undertaken this quest were these following: First was Sir Launcelot, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Bors de Ganis, and Bleoberis, and Sir Blamore de Ganis, and Lucan the Butler, Sir Uwaine, Sir Galihud Lionel, and Galiodin. So these ten noble knights departed from the court of King Arthur, and so they rode upon their quest together until they came to a cross where departed four ways, and there departed the fellowship in four to seek Sir Tristram.
And as Sir Launcelot rode by adventure he met with Dame Bragwaine that was sent into that country to seek Sir Tristram, and she fled as fast as her palfrey might go. So Sir Launcelot met with her and asked her why she fled. Ah, fair knight, said Dame Bragwaine, I flee for dread of my life, for here followeth me Sir Breuse Saunce Pite to slay me. Hold you nigh me, said Sir Launcelot. Then when Sir Launcelot saw Sir Breuse Saunce Pite, Sir Launcelot cried unto him, and said: False knight destroyer of ladies and damosels, now thy last days be come. When Sir Breuse Saunce Pite saw Sir Launcelot’s shield he knew it well, for at that time he bare not the arms of Cornwall, but he bare his own shield. And then Sir Breuse fled, and Sir Launcelot followed after him. But Sir Breuse was so well horsed that when him list to flee he might well flee, and also abide when him list. And then Sir Launcelot returned unto Dame Bragwaine, and she thanked him of his great labour.
How Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan were taken and put in prison.
NOW will we speak of Sir Lucan the butler, that by fortune he came riding to the same place thereas was Sir Tristram, and in he came in none other intent but to ask harbour. Then the porter asked what was his name. Tell your lord that my name is Sir Lucan, the butler, a Knight of the Round Table. So the porter went unto Sir Darras, lord of the place, and told him who was there to ask harbour. Nay, nay, said Sir Daname, that was nephew to Sir Darras, say him that he shall not be lodged here, but let him wit that I, Sir Daname, will meet with him anon, and bid him make him ready. So Sir Daname came forth on horseback, and there they met together with spears, and Sir Lucan smote down Sir Daname over his horse’s croup, and then he fled into that place, and Sir Lucan rode after him, and asked after him many times.
Then Sir Dinadan said to Sir Tristram: It is shame to see the lord’s cousin of this place defoiled. Abide, said Sir Tristram, and I shall redress it. And in the meanwhile Sir Dinadan was on horseback, and he jousted with Lucan the butler, and there Sir Lucan smote Dinadan through the thick of the thigh, and so he rode his way; and Sir Tristram was wroth that Sir Dinadan was hurt, and followed after, and thought to avenge him; and within a while he overtook Sir Lucan, and bade him turn; and so they met together so that Sir Tristram hurt Sir Lucan passing sore and gave him a fall. With that came Sir Uwaine, a gentle knight, and when he saw Sir Lucan so hurt he called Sir Tristram to joust with him. Fair knight, said Sir Tristram, tell me your name I require you. Sir knight, wit ye well my name is Sir Uwaine le Fise de Roy Ureine. Ah, said Sir Tristram, by my will I would not have ado with you at no time. Ye shall not so, said Sir Uwaine, but ye shall have ado with me. And then Sir Tristram saw none other bote, but rode against him, and overthrew Sir Uwaine and hurt him in the side, and so he departed unto his lodging again. And when Sir Dinadan understood that Sir Tristram had hurt Sir Lucan he would have ridden after Sir Lucan for to have slain him, but Sir Tristram would not suffer him. Then Sir Uwaine let ordain an horse litter, and brought Sir Lucan to the abbey of Ganis, and the castle thereby hight the Castle of Ganis, of the which Sir Bleoberis was lord. And at that castle Sir Launcelot promised all his fellows to meet in the quest of Sir Tristram.
So when Sir Tristram was come to his lodging there came a damosel that told Sir Darras that three of his sons were slain at that tournament, and two grievously wounded that they were never like to help themself. And all this was done by a noble knight that bare the black shield, and that was he that bare the prize. Then came there one and told Sir Darras that the same knight was within, him that bare the black shield. Then Sir Darras yede unto Sir Tristram’s chamber, and there he found his shield and showed it to the damosel. Ah sir, said the damosel, that same is he that slew your three sons. Then without any tarrying Sir Darras put Sir Tristram, and Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan, within a strong prison, and there Sir Tristram was like to have died of great sickness; and every day Sir Palomides would reprove Sir Tristram of old hate betwixt them. And ever Sir Tristram spake fair and said little. But when Sir Palomides saw the falling of sickness of Sir Tristram, then was he heavy for him, and comforted him in all the best wise he could. And as the French book saith, there came forty knights to Sir Darras that were of his own kin, and they would have slain Sir Tristram and his two fellows, but Sir Darras would not suffer that, but kept them in prison, and meat and drink they had. So Sir Tristram endured there great pain, for sickness had undertaken him, and that is the greatest pain a prisoner may have. For all the while a prisoner may have his health of body he may endure under the mercy of God and in hope of good deliverance; but when sickness toucheth a prisoner’s body, then may a prisoner say all wealth is him bereft, and then he hath cause to wail and to weep. Right so did Sir Tristram when sickness had undertaken him, for then he took such sorrow that he had almost slain himself.
How King Mark was sorry for the good renown of Sir Tristram. Some of King Arthur’s knights jousted with knights of Cornwall.
NOW will we speak, and leave Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan in prison, and speak we of other knights that sought after Sir Tristram many divers parts of this land. And some yede into Cornwall; and by adventure Sir Gaheris, nephew unto King Arthur, came unto King Mark, and there he was well received and sat at King Mark’s own table and ate of his own mess. Then King Mark asked Sir Gaheris what tidings there were in the realm of Logris. Sir, said Sir Gaheris, the king reigneth as a noble knight; and now but late there was a great jousts and tournament as ever I saw any in the realm of Logris, and the most noble knights were at that jousts. But there was one knight that did marvellously three days, and he bare a black shield, and of all knights that ever I saw he proved the best knight. Then, said King Mark, that was Sir Launcelot, or Sir Palomides the paynim. Not so, said Sir Gheris, for both Sir Launcelot and Sir Palomides were on the contrary party against the Knight with the Black Shield. Then was it Sir Tristram, said the king. Yea, said Sir Gaheris. And therewithal the king smote down his head, and in his heart he feared sore that Sir Tristram should get him such worship in the realm of Logris wherethrough that he himself should not be able to withstand him. Thus Sir Gaheris had great cheer with King Mark, and with Queen La Beale Isoud, the which was glad of Sir Gaheris’ words; for well she wist by his deeds and manners that it was Sir Tristram. And then the king made a feast royal, and to that feast came Sir Uwaine le Fise de Roy Ureine, and some called him Uwaine le Blanchemains. And this Sir Uwaine challenged all the knights of Cornwall. Then was the king wood wroth that he had no knights to answer him. Then Sir Andred, nephew unto King Mark, leapt up and said: I will encounter with Sir Uwaine. Then he yede and armed him and horsed him in the best manner. And there Sir Uwaine met with Sir Andred, and smote him down that he swooned on the earth. Then was King Mark sorry and wroth out of measure that he had no knight to revenge his nephew, Sir Andred.
So the king called unto him Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, and prayed him for his sake to take upon him to joust with Sir Uwaine. Sir, said Sir Dinas, I am full loath to have ado with any knight of the Round Table. Yet, said the king, for my love take upon thee to joust. So Sir Dinas made him ready, and anon they encountered together with great spears, but Sir Dinas was overthrown, horse and man, a great fall. Who was wroth but King Mark! Alas, he said, have I no knight that will encounter with yonder knight? Sir, said Sir Gaheris, for your sake I will joust. So Sir Gaheris made him ready, and when he was armed he rode into the field. And when Sir Uwaine saw Sir Gaheris’ shield he rode to him and said: Sir, ye do not your part. For, sir, the first time ye were made Knight of the Round Table ye sware that ye should not have ado with your fellowship wittingly. And pardie, Sir Gaheris, ye knew me well enough by my shield, and so do I know you by your shield, and though ye would break your oath I would not break mine; for there is not one here, nor ye, that shall think I am afeard of you, but I durst right well have ado with you, and yet we be sisters’ sons. Then was Sir Gaheris ashamed, and so therewithal every knight went their way, and Sir Uwaine rode into the country.
Then King Mark armed him, and took his horse and his spear, with a squire with him. And then he rode afore Sir Uwaine, and suddenly at a gap he ran upon him as he that was not ware of him, and there he smote him almost through the body, and there left him. So within a while there came Sir Kay and found Sir Uwaine, and asked him how he was hurt. I wot not, said Sir Uwaine, why nor wherefore, but by treason I am sure I gat this hurt; for here came a knight suddenly upon me or that I was ware, and suddenly hurt me. Then there was come Sir Andred to seek King Mark. Thou traitor knight, said Sir Kay, an I wist it were thou that thus traitorly hast hurt this noble knight thou shouldst never pass my hands. Sir, said Sir Andred, I did never hurt him, and that I will report me to himself. Fie on you false knight, said Sir Kay, for ye of Cornwall are nought worth. So Sir Kay made carry Sir Uwaine to the Abbey of the Black Cross, and there he was healed. And then Sir Gaheris took his leave of King Mark, but or he departed he said: Sir king, ye did a foul shame unto you and your court, when ye banished Sir Tristram out of this country, for ye needed not to have doubted no knight an he had been here. And so he departed.
Of the treason of King Mark, and how Sir Gaheris smote him down and Andred his cousin.
THEN there came Sir Kay, the Seneschal, unto King Mark, and there he had good cheer showing outward. Now, fair lords, said he, will ye prove any adventure in the forest of Morris, in the which I know well is as hard an adventure as I know any. Sir, said Sir Kay, I will prove it. And Sir Gaheris said he would be avised for King Mark was ever full of treason: and therewithal Sir Gaheris departed and rode his way. And by the same way that Sir Kay should ride he laid him down to rest, charging his squire to wait upon Sir Kay; And warn me when he cometh. So within a while Sir Kay came riding that way, and then Sir Gaheris took his horse and met him, and said: Sir Kay, ye are not wise to ride at the request of King Mark, for he dealeth all with treason. Then said Sir Kay: I require you let us prove this adventure. I shall not fail you, said Sir Gaheris. And so they rode that time till a lake that was that time called the Perilous Lake, and there they abode under the shaw of the wood.
The meanwhile King Mark within the castle of Tintagil avoided all his barons, and all other save such as were privy with him were avoided out of his chamber. And then he let call his nephew Sir Andred, and bade arm him and horse him lightly; and by that time it was midnight. And so King Mark was armed in black, horse and all; and so at a privy postern they two issued out with their varlets with them, and rode till they came to that lake. Then Sir Kay espied them first, and gat his spear, and proffered to joust. And King Mark rode against him, and smote each other full hard, for the moon shone as the bright day. And there at that jousts Sir Kay’s horse fell down, for his horse was not so big as the king’s horse, and Sir Kay’s horse bruised him full sore. Then Sir Gaheris was wroth that Sir Kay had a fall. Then he cried: Knight, sit thou fast in thy saddle, for I will revenge my fellow. Then King Mark was afeard of Sir Gaheris, and so with evil will King Mark rode against him, and Sir Gaheris gave him such a stroke that he fell down. So then forthwithal Sir Gaheris ran unto Sir Andred and smote him from his horse quite, that his helm smote in the earth, and nigh had broken his neck. And therewithal Sir Gaheris alighted, and gat up Sir Kay. And then they yode both on foot to them, and bade them yield them, and tell their names outher they should die. Then with great pain Sir Andred spake first, and said: It is King Mark of Cornwall, therefore be ye ware what ye do, and I am Sir Andred, his cousin. Fie on you both, said Sir Gaheris, for a false traitor, and false treason hast thou wrought and he both, under the feigned cheer that ye made us! it were pity, said Sir Gaheris, that thou shouldst live any longer. Save my life, said King Mark, and I will make amends; and consider that I am a king anointed. It were the more shame, said Sir Gaheris, to save thy life; thou art a king anointed with cream, and therefore thou shouldst hold with all men of worship; and therefore thou art worthy to die. With that he lashed at King Mark without saying any more, and covered him with his shield and defended him as he might. And then Sir Kay lashed at Sir Andred, and therewithal King Mark yielded him unto Sir Gaheris. And then he kneeled adown, and made his oath upon the cross of the sword, that never while he lived he would be against errant-knights. And also he sware to be good friend unto Sir Tristram if ever he came into Cornwall.
By then Sir Andred was on the earth, and Sir Kay would have slain him. Let be, said Sir Gaheris, slay him not I pray you. It were pity, said Sir Kay, that he should live any longer, for this is nigh cousin unto Sir Tristram, and ever he hath been a traitor unto him, and by him he was exiled out of Cornwall, and therefore I will slay him, said Sir Kay. Ye shall not, said Sir Gaheris; sithen I have given the king his life, I pray you give him his life. And therewithal Sir Kay let him go. And so Sir Kay and Sir Gaheris rode their way unto Dinas, the Seneschal, for because they heard say that he loved well Sir Tristram. So they reposed them there, and soon after they rode unto the realm of Logris. And so within a little while they met with Sir Launcelot that always had Dame Bragwaine with him, to that intent he weened to have met the sooner with Sir Tristram; and Sir Launcelot asked what tidings in Cornwall, and whether they heard of Sir Tristram or not. Sir Kay and Sir Gaheris answered and said, that they heard not of him. Then they told Sir Launcelot word by word of their adventure. Then Sir Launcelot smiled and said: Hard it is to take out of the flesh that is bred in the bone; and so made them merry together.
How after that Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan had been long in prison they were delivered.
NOW leave we off this tale, and speak we of sir Dinas that had within the castle a paramour, and she loved another knight better than him. And so when sir Dinas went out a-hunting she slipped down by a towel, and took with her two brachets, and so she yede to the knight that she loved, and he her again. And when sir Dinas came home and missed his paramour and his brachets, then was he the more wrother for his brachets than for the lady. So then he rode after the knight that had his paramour, and bade him turn and joust. So sir Dinas smote him down, that with the fall he brake his leg and his arm. And then his lady and paramour cried sir Dinas mercy, and said she would love him better than ever she did. Nay, said sir Dinas, I shall never trust them that once betrayed me, and therefore, as ye have begun, so end, for I will never meddle with you. And so sir Dinas departed, and took his brachets with him, and so rode to his castle.
Now will we turn unto sir Launcelot, that was right heavy that he could never hear no tidings of sir Tristram, for all this while he was in prison with sir Darras, Palomides, and Dinadan. Then Dame Bragwaine took her leave to go into Cornwall, and sir Launcelot, sir Kay, and sir Gaheris rode to seek sir Tristram in the country of Surluse.
Now speaketh this tale of sir Tristram and of his two fellows, for every day sir Palomides brawled and said language against sir Tristram. I marvel, said sir Dinadan, of thee, sir Palomides, an thou haddest sir Tristram here thou wouldst do him no harm; for an a wolf and a sheep were together in a prison the wolf would suffer the sheep to be in peace. And wit thou well, said sir Dinadan, this same is sir Tristram at a word, and now must thou do thy best with him, and let see now if ye can skift it with your hands. Then was sir Palomides abashed and said little. Sir Palomides, then said sir Tristram, I have heard much of your maugre against me, but I will not meddle with you as at this time by my will, because I dread the lord of this place that hath us in governance; for an I dread him not more than I do thee, soon it should be skift: so they peaced themself. Right so came in a damosel and said: Knights, be of good cheer, for ye are sure of your lives, and that I heard say my lord, Sir Darras. Then were they glad all three, for daily they weened they should have died.
Then soon after this Sir Tristram fell sick that he weened to have died; then Sir Dinadan wept, and so did Sir Palomides under them both making great sorrow. So a damosel came in to them and found them mourning. Then she went unto Sir Darras, and told him how that mighty knight that bare the black shield was likely to die. That shall not be, said Sir Darras, for God defend when knights come to me for succour that I should suffer them to die within my prison. Therefore, said Sir Darras to the damosel, fetch that knight and his fellows afore me. And then anon Sir Darras saw Sir Tristram brought afore him. He said: Sir knight, me repenteth of thy sickness for thou art called a full noble knight, and so it seemeth by thee; and wit ye well it shall never be said that Sir Darras shall destroy such a noble knight as thou art in prison, howbeit that thou hast slain three of my sons whereby I was greatly aggrieved. But now shalt thou go and thy fellows, and your harness and horses have been fair and clean kept, and ye shall go where it liketh you, upon this covenant, that thou, knight, wilt promise me to be good friend to my sons two that be now alive, and also that thou tell me thy name. Sir, said he, as for me my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and in Cornwall was I born, and nephew I am unto King Mark. And as for the death of your sons I might not do withal, for an they had been the next kin that I have I might have done none otherwise. And if I had slain them by treason or treachery I had been worthy to have died. All this I consider, said Sir Darras, that all that ye did was by force of knighthood, and that was the cause I would not put you to death. But sith ye be Sir Tristram, the good knight, I pray you heartily to be my good friend and to my sons. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I promise you by the faith of my body, ever while I live I will do you service, for ye have done to us but as a natural knight ought to do. Then Sir Tristram reposed him there till that he was amended of his sickness; and when he was big and strong they took their leave, and every knight took their horses, and so departed and rode together till they came to a cross way. Now fellows, said Sir Tristram, here will we depart in sundry ways. And because Sir Dinadan had the first adventure of him I will begin.
How Sir Dinadan rescued a lady from Sir Breuse Saunce Pite, and how Sir Tristram received a shield of Morgan le Fay.
SO as Sir Dinadan rode by a well he found a lady making great dole. What aileth you? said Sir Dinadan. Sir knight, said the lady, I am the wofullest lady of the world, for within these five days here came a knight called Sir Breuse Saunce Pite, and he slew mine own brother, and ever since he hath kept me at his own will, and of all men in the world I hate him most; and therefore I require you of knighthood to avenge me, for he will not tarry, but be here anon. Let him come, said Sir Dinadan, and because of honour of all women I will do my part. With this came Sir Breuse, and when he saw a knight with his lady he was wood wroth. And then he said: Sir knight, keep thee from me. So they hurtled together as thunder, and either smote other passing sore, but Sir Dinadan put him through the shoulder a grievous wound, and or ever Sir Dinadan might turn him Sir Breuse was gone and fled. Then the lady prayed him to bring her to a castle there beside but four mile thence; and so Sir Dinadan brought her there, and she was welcome, for the lord of that castle was her uncle; and so Sir Dinadan rode his way upon his adventure.
Now turn we this tale unto Sir Tristram, that by adventure he came to a castle to ask lodging, wherein was Queen Morgan le Fay; and so when Sir Tristram was let into that castle he had good cheer all that night. And upon the morn when he would have departed the queen said: Wit ye well ye shall not depart lightly, for ye are here as a prisoner. Jesu defend! said Sir Tristram, for I was but late a prisoner. Fair knight, said the queen, ye shall abide with me till that I wit what ye are and from whence ye come. And ever the queen would set Sir Tristram on her own side, and her paramour on the other side. And ever Queen Morgan would behold Sir Tristram, and thereat the knight was jealous, and was in will suddenly to have run upon Sir Tristram with a sword, but he left it for shame. Then the queen said to Sir Tristram: Tell me thy name, and I shall suffer you to depart when ye will. Upon that covenant I tell you my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Ah, said Morgan le Fay, an I had wist that, thou shouldst not have departed so soon as thou shalt. But sithen I have made a promise I will hold it, with that thou wilt promise me to bear upon thee a shield that I shall deliver thee, unto the castle of the Hard Rock, where King Arthur had cried a great tournament, and there I pray you that ye will be, and to do for me as much deeds of arms as ye may do. For at the Castle of Maidens, Sir Tristram, ye did marvellous deeds of arms as ever I heard knight do. Madam, said Sir Tristram, let me see the shield that I shall bear. Then the shield was brought forth, and the field was goldish, with a king and a queen therein painted, and a knight standing above them, [one foot] upon the king’s head, and the other upon the queen’s. Madam, said Sir Tristram, this is a fair shield and a mighty; but what signifieth this king and this queen, and the knight standing upon both their heads? I shall tell you, said Morgan le Fay, it signifieth King Arthur and Queen Guenever, and a knight who holdeth them both in bondage and in servage. Who is that knight? said Sir Tristram. That shall ye not wit as at this time, said the queen. But as the French book saith, Queen Morgan loved Sir Launcelot best, and ever she desired him, and he would never love her nor do nothing at her request, and therefore she held many knights together for to have taken him by strength. And because she deemed that Sir Launcelot loved Queen Guenever paramour, and she him again, therefore Queen Morgan le Fay ordained that shield to put Sir Launcelot to a rebuke, to that intent that King Arthur might understand the love between them. Then Sir Tristram took that shield and promised her to bear it at the tournament at the Castle of the Hard Rock. But Sir Tristram knew not that that shield was ordained against Sir Launcelot, but afterward he knew it.
How Sir Tristram took with him the shield, and also how he slew the paramour of Morgan le Fay.
SO then Sir Tristram took his leave of the queen, and took the shield with him. Then came the knight that held Queen Morgan le Fay, his name was Sir Hemison, and he made him ready to follow Sir Tristram. Fair friend, said Morgan, ride not after that knight, for ye shall not win no worship of him. Fie on him, coward, said Sir Hemison, for I wist never good knight come out of Cornwall but if it were Sir Tristram de Liones. What an that be he? said she. Nay, nay, said he, he is with La Beale Isoud, and this is but a daffish knight. Alas, my fair friend, ye shall find him the best knight that ever ye met withal, for I know him better than ye do. For your sake, said Sir Hemison, I shall slay him. Ah, fair friend, said the queen, me repenteth that ye will follow that knight, for I fear me sore of your again coming. With this this knight rode his way wood wroth, and he rode after Sir Tristram as fast as he had been chased with knights. When Sir Tristram heard a knight come after him so fast he returned about, and saw a knight coming against him. And when he came nigh to Sir Tristram he cried on high: Sir knight, keep thee from me. Then they rushed together as it had been thunder, and Sir Hemison brised his spear upon Sir Tristram, but his harness was so good that he might not hurt him. And Sir Tristram smote him harder, and bare him through the body, and he fell over his horse’s croup. Then Sir Tristram turned to have done more with his sword, but he saw so much blood go from him that him seemed he was likely to die, and so he departed from him and came to a fair manor to an old knight, and there Sir Tristram lodged.
How Morgan le Fay buried her paramour, and how Sir Tristram praised Sir Launcelot and his kin.
NOW leave to speak of Sir Tristram, and speak we of the knight that was wounded to the death. Then his varlet alighted, and took off his helm, and then he asked his lord whether there were any life in him. There is in me life said the knight, but it is but little; and therefore leap thou up behind me when thou hast holpen me up, and hold me fast that I fall not, and bring me to Queen Morgan le Fay; for deep draughts of death draw to my heart that I may not live, for I would fain speak with her or I died: for else my soul will be in great peril an I die. For[thwith] with great pain his varlet brought him to the castle, and there Sir Hemison fell down dead. When Morgan le Fay saw him dead she made great sorrow out of reason; and then she let despoil him unto his shirt, and so she let him put into a tomb. And about the tomb she let write: Here lieth Sir Hemison, slain by the hands of Sir Tristram de Liones.
Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that asked the knight his host if he saw late any knights adventurous. Sir, he said, the last night here lodged with me Ector de Maris and a damosel with him, and that damosel told me that he was one of the best knights of the world. That is not so, said Sir Tristram, for I know four better knights of his own blood, and the first is Sir Launcelot du Lake, call him the best knight, and Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Blamore de Ganis, and Sir Gaheris. Nay, said his host, Sir Gawaine is a better knight than he. That is not so, said Sir Tristram, for I have met with them both, and I felt Sir Gaheris for the better knight, and Sir Lamorak I call him as good as any of them except Sir Launcelot. Why name ye not Sir Tristram? said his host, for I account him as good as any of them. I know not Sir Tristram, said Tristram. Thus they talked and bourded as long as them list, and then went to rest. And on the morn Sir Tristram departed, and took his leave of his host, and rode toward the Roche Dure, and none adventure had Sir Tristram but that; and so he rested not till he came to the castle, where he saw five hundred tents.
How Sir Tristram at a tournament bare the shield that Morgan le Fay delivered to him.
THEN the King of Scots and the King of Ireland held against King Arthur’s knights, and there began a great medley. So came in Sir Tristram and did marvellous deeds of arms, for there he smote down many knights. And ever he was afore King Arthur with that shield. And when King Arthur saw that shield he marvelled greatly in what intent it was made; but Queen Guenever deemed as it was, wherefore she was heavy. Then was there a damosel of Queen Morgan in a chamber by King Arthur, and when she heard King Arthur speak of that shield, then she spake openly unto King Arthur. Sir King, wit ye well this shield was ordained for you, to warn you of your shame and dishonour, and that longeth to you and your queen. And then anon that damosel picked her away privily, that no man wist where she was become. Then was King Arthur sad and wroth, and asked from whence came that damosel. There was not one that knew her nor wist where she was become. Then Queen Guenever called to her Sir Ector de Maris, and there she made her complaint to him, and said: I wot well this shield was made by Morgan le Fay in despite of me and of Sir Launcelot, wherefore I dread me sore lest I should be destroyed. And ever the king beheld Sir Tristram, that did so marvellous deeds of arms that he wondered sore what knight he might be, and well he wist it was not Sir Launcelot. And it was told him that Sir Tristram was in Petit Britain with Isoud la Blanche Mains, for he deemed, an he had been in the realm of Logris, Sir Launcelot or some of his fellows that were in the quest of Sir Tristram that they should have found him or that time. So King Arthur had marvel what knight he might be. And ever Sir Arthur’s eye was on that shield. All that espied the queen, and that made her sore afeard.
Then ever Sir Tristram smote down knights wonderly to behold, what upon the right hand and upon the left hand, that unnethe no knight might withstand him. And the King of Scots and the King of Ireland began to withdraw them. When Arthur espied that, he thought that that knight with the strange shield should not escape him. Then he called unto him Sir Uwaine le Blanche Mains, and bade him arm him and make him ready. So anon King Arthur and Sir Uwaine dressed them before Sir Tristram, and required him to tell them where he had that shield. Sir, he said, I had it of Queen Morgan le Fay, sister unto King Arthur.
So here endeth this history of this book, for it is the first book of Sir Tristram de Liones and the second book of Sir Tristram followeth.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53